Parents' Guide to


By Nell Minow, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Peppy holiday favorite for both kids and parents.

Movie PG 2003 90 minutes
Elf Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 72 parent reviews

age 6+

How to avoid the doubting-Santa scene

Reviewers have expressed concern about the scene in which Papa Elf says that people doubt that Santa exists and that they think that it is actually the parents doing everything. To avoid little kids hearing that, you can mute for 30 seconds after Papa Elf says "As silly as it sounds ..." in the sleigh room scene; on DVD, this was from minute 7:40 to minute 8:10.
age 11+

Language and concepts are quite mature. Doubt around existence of Santa.

This movie is wholesome enough for watching with my partner and even my mom but I'd hesitate to show it to kids for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it includes some foul language and concepts that are mature. There is discussion around adoption and absent parenting as well as the fact that it raises doubts around the existence of Santa. Secondly, there is a scene that includes violence towards a "little person". The character is called names (inadvertently, by "Buddy"), and this brings up issues that would likely need to be debriefed for any kid who's sensitive to prejudice. In summary, there are plenty of great Christmas movies that are geared towards kids, but this isn't one of them due to the inclusion of more mature topics. Some parents may just gloss over these topics but there's no way my kid would accept a movie like this with no explanations.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (72 ):
Kids say (194 ):

This movie is sweet and funny, though it can't quite seem to make up its mind whether people should need proof of Santa's existence or not. Some of the jokes in Elf work better than others, and the talents of Caan, Steenburgen, Bob Newhart (as Buddy's adoptive father), and Ed Asner (as Santa) are neglected. But director Jon Favreau shows some verve and keeps the story moving quickly enough to keep it from feeling like a series of skits.

Deschanel nicely shows us the way that Buddy appeals to Jovie's longing for a place where singing and sweetness are encouraged. Peter Dinklage has a marvelous cameo as a haughty author of children's books, making his appearance much more than a sight gag. And Ferrell? His lanky cluelessness has a slightly muddled but imperishable sweetness that gives an endearing quality to all the characters he plays, including Buddy, who's a sort of human Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Buddy's naive pleasure in the world around him is ultimately almost as endearing to us as it is to (almost) everyone he meets.

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