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Elf (2003)

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After discovering he is a human, a man raised as an elf at the North Pole decides to travel to New York City to locate his real father.


Jon Favreau


David Berenbaum
125 ( 283)
2 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Will Ferrell ... Buddy
James Caan ... Walter
Bob Newhart ... Papa Elf
Edward Asner ... Santa
Mary Steenburgen ... Emily
Zooey Deschanel ... Jovie
Daniel Tay Daniel Tay ... Michael
Faizon Love ... Gimbel's Manager
Peter Dinklage ... Miles Finch
Amy Sedaris ... Deb
Michael Lerner ... Fulton
Andy Richter ... Morris
Kyle Gass ... Eugene
Artie Lange ... Gimbel's Santa
Leon Redbone ... Leon the Snowman (voice)

Who Was Almost Buddy the Elf?

Jim Carrey as Buddy the Elf? It almost happened! Check out who else almost starred in your favorite Christmas movies.

Find out



Buddy was a baby in an orphanage who stowed away in Santa's sack and ended up at the North Pole. Later, as an adult human who happened to be raised by elves, Santa allows him to go to New York City to find his birth father, Walter Hobbs. Hobbs, on Santa's naughty list for being a heartless jerk, had no idea that Buddy was even born. Buddy, meanwhile, experiences the delights of New York City (and human culture) as only an elf can. When Walter's relationship with Buddy interferes with his job, he is forced to reevaluate his priorities. Written by Ken Miller <wkmiller704@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


This holiday, discover your inner elf.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some mild rude humor and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The apartment in which Buddy's dad lives is the same apartment building (exterior shot) in which Dana Barrett lived in Ghostbusters (1984). See more »


When Buddy received the finger prick at the doctor's office, there's no blood on his finger, neither is there any blood on the cotton ball placed on his finger. See more »


[first lines]
Papa Elf: Oh, hello. You're, uh, you're probably here about the story.
[the pages flip to show Papa Elf talking to the camera]
Papa Elf: Elves love to tell stories. I-I'll bet you didn't know that about elves. There's, uh, probably a lot of things you didn't know about elves. Another, another interesting, uh, elfism, uh, there are only three jobs available to an elf. The first is making shoes at night while, you know, while the old cobbler sleeps.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Near the end of the credits, the original score from the film plays over in the background, and then the last one thing showing was the title of the film. See more »


Referenced in Single Parents: The Magic Box (2018) See more »


Nothing from Nothing
Written by Billy Preston and Bruce Fisher
Performed by Billy Preston
Courtesy of A&M Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
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User Reviews

Elf yourself.
12 December 2018 | by Pjtaylor-96-138044See all my reviews

'Elf (2003)' is a sweet, 'Christmas spirit'-soaked experience that's got just the right amount of edge. It's lead by the somewhat 'restrained' (in that he isn't swearing or getting sexual) yet brazen and unembarrassed Will Ferrell in perhaps his most iconic role. It's also backed-up by pretty much the pitch-perfect 'straight-man' and screen legend that is James Caan. The film is genuinely funny on a surprising number of occasions, while just generally being enjoyable the rest of the time, to boot. Where it falters slightly is in its third-act, where the much more interesting father-son stuff is sidelined - to the point that the 'all is lost moment' and its aftermath (including its initial rectifying and, even, the flick's ultimate denouement) are rushed so much that they feel fairly disingenuous - in favour of a more traditional, typically 'Christmassy' 'saving Santa' story which honestly feels out of place here. It's a real shame that the crux of the narrative is glossed over for this finale, especially considering that the focal relationship and its themes are actually really juicy stuff - in terms of both comedy and character (indeed, pretty much every major player comes full circle in terms of their arc). It's an entertaining experience, nevertheless, and a pop-culture staple, too. 7/10

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Official Sites:

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Release Date:

7 November 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Elf See more »


Box Office


$33,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$32,100,000, 9 November 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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