Light on plot (feels like the climax in Central Park was the first major event), and the “Christmas spirit” motif feels a little shoehorned in on top of the family/redemption arc, but Ferrell’s goofy and (syrupy) sweet fish-out-of-water schtick is infectious (answering the phone: “Buddy the Elf, what’s your favourite colour?”) and is complemented by a good smattering of other delights (see Newhart’s matter-of-fact Papa Elf and the rest of the solid supporting cast; stop-motion North Pole).
When Prince Fabious’s bride is kidnapped, he goes on a quest to rescue her… accompanied by his lazy useless brother Thadeous. (IMDb)
I suppose there’s some humour to be found in throwing crude content and expletives into the typically haughty dialogue and setting of a medieval period piece, but it’s done to such a (literally) gross extent here it wears very thin very quickly, and when even the (bland and suspense-less) main plot is misogynist and centered on sex, the whole film just feels like the adventure fan-fiction of a snickering 15-year old who plays Age of Empires and has porn mags stashed under his mattress.
A guy challenges himself to say “yes” to everything for an entire year. (IMDb)
The central motif is well developed, as Carrey’s charming Carl moves from melancholy conservatism to inspiring free-spirited-ness before a well-placed stick in the spokes adds nuance to the message (see the “no” in his ex’s apartment). The romance narrative isn’t as impressive; it’s formulaic, with a predictable fall out (the FBI twist that instigates it also seems far fetched), though Carrey and Deschanel have decent chemistry. Darby’s hilariously nerdy Norman is a notable supporting character.
A high-school boy is given the chance to write a story for Rolling Stone Magazine about an up-and-coming rock band as he accompanies it on their concert tour. (IMDb)
In light of the quick and witty opening (Deschanel and McDormand have great mom-daughter chemistry) and satisfying end (“There’s still hope for you”) the middle feels a bit messy and tonally inconsistent (the airplane scene was hilarious but could have been a great serious moment), but probably appropriately so, given the film’s coming-of-age plot and wild rock ‘n roll tour setting. Themes of love, integrity, and fame pop in and out of the busy script–interesting, but not always fully impacting.
7.5/10 (Really Good)