Several minor traffic accidents occurred when Will Ferrell walked through the Lincoln Tunnel in his costume, because people were so surprised (and distracted from their driving) to see him wearing an elf outfit.
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Will Ferrell turned down $29 million to be in Elf 2 in late 2013.
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The scene when Buddy eats different candies and pastries with the spaghetti noodles had to be shot twice, because Will Ferrell vomited the first time.
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The cotton balls Buddy eats while in the doctor's office were actually cotton candy that had not been dyed.
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Will Ferrell suffered from headaches throughout filming, as he had to actually eat all of the sugary foodstuffs in the Elf food pyramid on camera.
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On the final day of shooting in New York City, it was just director Jon Favreau, Will Ferrell, and a camera man driving around the city looking for locations to shoot. They would jump out and ask pedestrians if they would be willing to be extras for some quick cash, while Ferrell paraded around acting like Buddy. Much of the montage when Buddy first arrives in New York City was filmed then, such as when he is getting his shoes shined, and jumping between traffic.
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The design for Santa's Workshop as well as the elf uniforms come from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964). The elf uniforms completely mirror the ones from the television special. Most of the animals in the North Pole are also designed to look like the same form of stop-motion animation used in Rudolph.
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The scene where the fake Santa is chasing Buddy had to be done in one take, because it was too hard to rebuild everything.
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The elf Ming Ming, who appears briefly in the beginning of the film, is played by Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie Parker in the classic holiday film A Christmas Story (1983).
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The film is able to use elements from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964) freely because that film is not properly copyrighted, containing an error in the Roman numerals of its copyright notice.
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Will Ferrell's brother Patrick played a security guard at the Empire State Building.
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Director Jon Favreau drew Buddy's crayon drawing of himself in the card he made for his dad.
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The apartment in which Buddy's dad lives is the same apartment building (exterior shot) in which Dana Barrett lived in Ghostbusters (1984).
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Buddy's twelve-second belch was supplied by voice actor Maurice LaMarche, best-known for his cartoon character, "The Brain", from Pinky and the Brain (1995), and who also did the operatic belching in Animaniacs (1993) as "The Great Wakarotti". LaMarche also worked with Will Ferrell on the animated series, The Oblongs (2001).
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The film's exterior of Gimbels department store has previously been reported to be a digitally altered view of the Macy's flagship store on 34th Street in Herald Square, Manhattan. This is incorrect. It is actually 295 Fifth Avenue and 30th Street, also known as the Textile Building. Meanwhile, the Macy's was only used for all of the interior scenes. But it is true that considerable CGI work was put into transforming the exterior into "Gimbels". The actual Gimbels was the main competitor for Macy's, with its flagship store located on 33rd Street in Herald Square, just a block south of the Macy's. The Gimbels closed in 1986, and the site is now the Manhattan Mall.
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When this screenplay first emerged in 1993, Jim Carrey was attached to star.
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Zooey Deschanel performs three songs in this film. One of them is "Baby, It's Cold Outside", which she sings in the shower accompanied by Will Ferrell, and then sings again with Leon Redbone over the end titles. She later made an official recording with her indie duo She & Him, released on their album "A Very She & Him Christmas" released in 2011.
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Plans for Elf 2 were scrapped because Will Ferrell turned down the role.
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The sound effect used by the jack-in-the-box is the same sound effect used by the laughing hyenas at the Magic Kingdom at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, and was also used in Lady and the Tramp (1955) for the laughing hyenas in the zoo, as well as for Ripper Roo in the Crash Bandicoot video game series.
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The name badge for the male toy store manager at Gimbel's says Wanda.
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The skyline Buddy builds at Gimbel's contains many Philadelphia skyscrapers, including One Liberty Place. Screenwriter David Berenbaum is from Philadelphia, and in real life, Gimbel's was a prominent Philadelphia department store, and sponsor of the country's first Thanksgiving parade held in that city in 1920.
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The scene where Buddy and the fake Santa fight was filmed in front of a greenscreen and all of the kids were put onto the greenscreen in editing. They were filmed separately from the fight scene. This was due to the fact that it had to be filmed in one take and it was too dangerous having all of the kids in the scene. This is evident when Buddy is framed against the kids when he first sees fake Santa.
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When Buddy (Will Ferrell) goes to Gimbel's to ask Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) out on a date, the song playing over the loudspeaker is "Christmas Island" sung by Leon Redbone. Redbone also provided the voice of Leon the snowman at the North Pole.
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The brief television news clip showing Buddy walking in Central Park (just before Buddy's dad and brother find him), and the still picture of Buddy in the news clip, closely mimic the famous 1967 film of an alleged Bigfoot ("Patty") taken by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin.
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The voice of the jack-in-the-box laugh is that of Dal McKennon. The audio clip is taken from Lady and the Tramp (1955), in which McKennon performed the voice of a laughing hyena.
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Mary Steenburgen who plays Emily, basically Buddy's "step mom", would go on to play his mom again in Step Brothers (2008).
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The scene in which Buddy is on the bridge in the snow references a similar scene in another Christmas favorite: It's a Wonderful Life (1946).
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Near the end, when Santa (Ed Asner) is showing Michael (Daniel Tay) his nice list, all of the people on Santa's list worked on the movie: Victoria Down (key make-up artist) wants an English riding saddle with leathers and a crop; Drew Davidson (chief lighting technician, as Andrew Davidson) wants Rock'em Sock'em robots; Andreas Nieman (assistant property master, as Andy Nieman) wants a complete set of titanium drivers and a new golf glove; Nathan Tichenor (co-production coordinator) wants an Apple iBook with a one gig hard drive and a built-in CD burner; Michael Hobbs is a character in the movie; Jimmy Miller (executive producer) wants a Hot Wheels turbo ultra race track with six cars, power launcher, and track cleaner and Penny Gibbs (unit production manager) wants an Old MacDonald Farm Kit with battery operated tractor and a remote controlled cow-tipper.
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This movie was turned into a Broadway musical. It premiered November 2010, and ran through January 2011.
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The 4 Central Park Rangers are spoofs of the Four Horseman Of The Apocalypse.
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DIRECTOR CAMEO (Jon Favreau): The doctor, and the narwhal voice.
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In the scene in which Buddy gets drunk in the mailroom with a mail worker, the mail worker laments "I'm 26 years old." The actor Mark Acheson who plays the mail worker was born in 1957 and was approximately age 46 when the movie came out.
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When Santa gives Michael his present, it's a "Real Huf" board. Real is the brand of skateboard and Huf, is the nickname for professional skateboarder, Keith Hufnagel. Director John Favreau is friends with Keith Hufnagel, and used to use him for stunts. This is why his skateboard is used.
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The scene after Buddy hugs the raccoon and exits the forest to walk down a paved forest road was shot on Paradise Valley Road in Squamish, British Columbia. The crew was in the area randomly searching for a suitable location, and were found trespassing on private property just as they finished shooting the scene.
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When she first meets Buddy, Jovie asks, "Did Crumpet put you up to this?" Crumpet was David Sedaris' character name when he worked as a Macy's elf, as recounted in his Christmas story anthology "The Santaland Diaries". David Sedaris' sister, Amy Sedaris appeared in the film as James Caan's assistant, Deb. It may also be a reference to Mount Crumpit from the Dr. Seuss Christmas story "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
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Leon, the snowman at the North Pole, is named for the singer Leon Redbone, who voices the character. Coincidentally, "Leon" is also "Noel" backwards.
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The Christmas tree being too big for the living room is a nod to National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989), where Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) also uproots a tree with the Family station wagon that is too big for his living room.
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Jim Carrey was originally attached to portray Buddy, but turned down the role. The role later went to Will Ferrell.
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Peter Billingsley (Head Elf) starred in one of the biggest Christmas classics. A Christmas Story.
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Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) sings "Baby It's Cold Outside" in the shower. James Caan, who played Buddy's dad, also sang this song with Bette Midler in For the Boys (1991).
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As Santa is finally flying out of Central Park, he gruffly remarks, "I'm getting too old for this job". This may be a nod to Danny Glover's famous line from Lethal Weapon (1987), another Christmastime classic. References to other great Christmas projects are scattered throughout the film, including It's a Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A Christmas Story (1983), How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).
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Peter Billingsley, Jon Favreau and Mary Steenburgen all also appear in another Christmas movie, Four Christmases, (2008).
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When baby Buddy is put in his crib on Christmas Eve, the nun at the orphanage gives him a bottle and leaves. While we now know that this is a dangerous practice, at the time that the scene was set, this was common. Parents and caretakers did not know of any risks, as physicians did not advise against it.
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When Buddy is in the holding cell after the fight with the department store Santa, the walls he's sitting against says "No Smoking, No spitting". The inmate sitting at the table playing cards is in fact smoking.
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The football jersey frequently worn by Michael (Daniel Tay) is that of fan favorite #80 Wayne Chrebet of the New York Jets.
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This marks the first time of many Edward Asner played Santa Claus for real. He had previously 'portrayed' Santa Claus in the 1986 Disney TV Movie The Christmas Star (1986), although on that occasion he was actually a con artist masquerading as Santa in order to trick some kids into helping him recover stolen loot.
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We can see in the scene where Buddy brings Jovie to taste the world's best cup of coffee, that she's wearing a traditional Irish Claddagh ring. These rings symbolize love, loyalty, and friendship.
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The character "Francisco", which Buddy says is "fun to say", was James Caan's alien partner's name in Alien Nation (1988).
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Terry Zwigoff was offered a chance to direct the film, but turned it down. He instead directed another Christmas related film , Bad Santa (2003).
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James Caan and Edward Asner starred with John Wayne in El Dorado (1967).
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Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel appeared in Winter Passing (2005).
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Both Edward Asner (Santa) and James Caan (Walter Hobb, Buddy's dad) guest starred in Hawai'i Five-0 (2005), which stars James Caan's son Scott.
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Both director Jon Faverau and Peter Dinklage were in the MCU.
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Meghan Black's feature film debut. She played an elf.
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James Caan appeared in The Godfather (1972) and The Godfather: Part II (1974) with Robert Duvall, who also played Will Ferrell's father in Kicking & Screaming (2005).
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Second film where James Caan plays someone who father's a child out of wedlock the first time was in The Godfather (1972) as it was revealed in the third Godfather film, he fathered Vincent Mancini.
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During the scene when Buddy first arrives at his father's office, Walters secretary Deb can be seen on the phone talking to someone about declawing 8 cats. She tells the person on the phone to "just bring them by the camper..." implying that she is so dramatically under-paid by Walter that she is too poor to afford an apartment in the city
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Most of the shots with Will Ferrell and Santa in the workshop with the elves are forced perspective rather than CGI.
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