As a child I loved The Christmas Elves. Revisiting it again many years later on DVD, and it is just as warm, fun and charming as it ever was. It is short, but well rounded and satisfying.
The animation is mostly quite good. There was only one goof that was quite noticeable, and that was one scene where Elsa's dress changes from green to purple to green again. Other than that, the colours have a colourful, elegant feel to them, the backgrounds are simple but never too static and the character designs especially for Hans are not too blocky either, excepting Santa who looked a little odd and perhaps a little too tall.
Another surprise was the music. I liked the opening song, and while the melody for the vain king's song about shoes wasn't as memorable, the lyrics and the ostinato were and were quite amusing. The real delight in regard to this asset was the incidental music, lots of classical music to enjoy- such as Nutcracker, Eugene Onegin, Barber of Seville and Pastoral Symphony- and perfect for any kids introducing themselves to this wonderful but perhaps under-estimated genre of music or classical music enthusiasts like me.
The Christmas Elves' writing is also above average. The dialogue is funny and sweet without any obvious or over-used gags or cloying over-sentimentality. My only nit-pick was that the elf who always had his hat over his eyes wasn't always easy to hear with his words, due to his quite low speaking and strong accent. The part where Hans repays the elves by making the clothes is very sweet and the part with Hans meeting Tommy's family touching, and if I had to pick what was the funniest, I think it has to be the end with the vain king unable to take his new shoes off and finding he is saying kind things about everything and then trying to contradict himself.
Story-wise, The Christmas Elves is engaging. It is briskly paced and is a neat Christmas twist on The Elves and the Shoemaker. At the end I felt warm and cosy which is exactly what a Christmas movie should do and felt it had a lot of charm and heart. The characters have a lot of likability, as cute as the elves are the best character was Hans, a kind-hearted character who you root for immediately. The King is more amusing than sinister, but I quite liked this, and he is never too annoying. Voice work is very good mostly, Hans is very dynamic and the King is voiced with lots of gusto, however Santa could have been more jovial.
In conclusion, a great little Christmas movie. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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