Box art for Elf


children & family, comedy

When one of Santa's elves learns that he's actually a human whom Santa inadvertently brought back from an orphanage when he was a baby

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 7
3 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
2 out of 5
Educational value
0 out of 5
1 out of 5
Positive messages
4 out of 5
Positive role models
4 out of 5
Sexy Stuff
1 out of 5
Violence & scariness
1 out of 5

Peppy holiday favorite for both kids and parents.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that although Elf has some potty language and mild swearing ("pissed," "hell," "damn," etc.) and a few references to bodily functions, it's family friendly at its core. Even young kids will appreciate the humor inherent in this fish-out-of-water tale, although some might be upset that Buddy's mother died and that his father never knew about him. The few action sequences (galloping rangers chasing Santa in Central Park, a brief confrontation with a scary raccoon, and some scuffles in a department store) aren't really threatening, and no one is injured. Although the movie is 100% on board with the magic of Christmas, some characters shake their head and roll their eyes at the notion of Santa, and kids talk about the possibility of parents being the ones behind the presents. But the movie's overall message of the value derived from honesty, acceptance, and affection for all humanity is clear and positive.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about whether Buddy is a role model. Do you think the movie intends for him to be someone people admire? Why or why not? Are you more likely to laugh at him or with him? Why? What's the difference?
  • If you arrived in your town after 30 years at the North Pole, what do you think might surprise and delight you the way that the escalator and revolving door surprised and delighted Buddy?
  • How does this movie compare to other Will Ferrell comedies? Why do you think he doesn't make more movies for kids?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 32
    see all Elf reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: As an original family film for the holidays, it's fresh, timely and quite funny.

- Bruce Westbrook, Houston Chronicle, Friday, November 7, 2003

Fresh: Elf might be the last modern Christmas classic we see for a long time.

- Christian Toto, What Would Toto Watch?, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fresh: Sure, Elf feels a little too feel-good at the end, but what do you expect? It's a Christmas movie! Anything else would be the cinematic equivalent of finding coal in your stocking.

- Christy Lemire, Associated Press, Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Audience Reviews

1 star


- rjayhutchinson, Friday, July 30, 2010

3 stars


- bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb1, Wednesday, July 21, 2010

2 stars

ELF definitely appeared to be a Christmas classic for the new millenium. That disappeared when it chose to dramatically change from an enjoyable, fresh comedy, to sappy, preachy cheese. Despite this awful turn of events, Will Ferrell's funny performance, as well as a great soundtrack, make ELF (or at least the first half, anyway) a decent enough Christmas flick.

- fernandorafael, Saturday, December 26, 2009