Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Elf-Man Movie Poster Image
Ho-hum Christmas adventure centers on elf slapstick.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 87 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Believing in yourself; loyalty; family unity; moving beyond grief.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dad is hardworking and devoted to holding the family together after the mother's death. The kids are sensitive, caring, and polite. Grandma is a solid presence and backbone of the family.

Violence & Scariness

Slapstick, cartoonish pratfall violence in a number of scenes, such as when an elf falls off a roof but isn't hurt; a kid hits an elf with a baseball bat; elf crashes into the Christmas tree; elf is hit in the face with a frying pan, falls down stairs; a man and elf wrestle in the sky and fall to the ground; and a woman waves a meat cleaver at a man.


Sexy Stuff

A woman giggles and flirts with a man in a bar, putting whipped cream on his nose; a man asks a woman out on a date.


Reindeer flatulence.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some people sit at a bar with drinks in front of them.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Elf-Man is a middling holiday adventure featuring a single dad whose wife died (death is referred to but not shown). The children are sad at Christmastime because they miss their mother, and a girl cries at night thinking about her. In one brief scene, she discusses with her grandmother that her mother is never coming back. Elsewhere, the movie features light, slapstick violence centered on an elf getting knocked around in a few scenes and some crude humor with a scene involving reindeer flatulence. 

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What's the story?

Brother and sister Ryan and Casey are excited about Christmas. Dad has just perfected his new invention to save energy, and with Grandma on the way for a visit, the trio is excited about having a great Christmas, even if they miss their mom, who recently passed away. But all is not well when a gang of thieves kidnaps Dad, leaving Ryan, Casey, and Grandma to place their hopes on an elf doll who, legend says, appears on a wish to make dreams come true. The elf appears, but first he must learn how to tap into his special powers.

Is it any good?

ELF-MAN is not entirely without entertainment value. There's a kooky grandma, bumbling thieves, and some elf slapstick that likely will get laughs from kids. But the steam runs out quickly on this poor man's Home Alone, and the movie feels like a watered-down version of the many better adventures that have come before it. Long stretches of plot involve an elf pretending to take a shower so Dad's new girlfriend doesn't notice he hasn't come home yet. Major plot turns revolve around getting the elf to believe in himself so he can become the superhero he's destined to be. Even though there are some sweet messages about moving past grief and welcoming new family members and a few laughs, they wear thin, and no one is likely to feel deeply moved or entertained in the end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about holiday magic. Why do so many films feature something magical happening at this time of year? 

  • Do you think the elf is treated well in the movie? Why, or why not? Why are there so many jokes centered on the elf being hit or knocked down? What does Elf-Man say about how we treat little people in movies and on TV?

  • What would you wish for if you met a magical elf?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love the holidays

Themes & Topics

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