The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story Movie Poster Image

The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story

Popular book inspires delightful holiday movie for families.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: NR
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 24 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

Nothing truly educational, but the story's feel-good messages spread good will about the spirit of the holidays.

Positive messages

The story's message underscores the true spirit of Christmas, which is less about gifts and more about a sense of joy and peace and love among families.

Positive role models

Chippey is a model employee who takes pride in his work and wants to do the best job he can. He also proves that perseverance pays off. When Taylor breaks the rules by touching Chippey, he learns about the repercussions of his actions and does what he can to solve the problem.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

The story is inspired by a book of the same name, which comes packaged with its own elf to keep tabs on the owner's home. The book cover is visible numerous times throughout the movie, and the story even goes so far as to show Chippey being packaged with the book for shipment.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this spirited holiday story is based on a popular kids' book that's packaged with its own shelf-sized elf, so if your home doesn't already have one, it's a good bet your kids will be clamoring for one after they tune in. The story centers on a boy who doubts the existence of Christmas magic (and, by association, Santa), but the story's evolvement leaves little doubt in that regard. This delightful tale is a great addition to families' holiday TV traditions, and viewers of all ages are bound to enjoy its vibrant display of Christmas fanfare and feel-good emotions that reflect the season.

What's the story?

THE ELF ON THE SHELF follows the adventures of Chippey (voiced by Brendan Dooling), a novice scout elf from the North Pole who's assigned to the McTuttle home to keep tabs on the behavior of 9-year-old Taylor (Michael May) and his twin sisters, Kendyl (Evie Eikhoff) and Caroline (Julia Walters), so he can report back to Santa each night. Taylor's skepticism about Christmas makes him a tough assignment, and when he drains Chippey's magic by touching him (a cardinal no-no when dealing with elves), Chippey fears that he's failed his new family. But Christmas magic has a way of doing the impossible, and with a little faith from Taylor, holiday spirit might just change Chippey's fortune.

Is it any good?


What began as a simple Christmas tradition for one family has blossomed into a best-selling book that has now inspired what's sure to become a new addition to kids' holiday must-see list. Look past the modern CGI animation and you'll find a timeless story that deserves a place among the classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Viewers who are familiar with the book will love how this movie stays true to it, incorporating aspects of the story and the illustrations even while it expands on the tale by following an individual elf's journey to a home of his own.

There's a commercial tie-in to be considered, since the book cover is visible throughout the movie and one scene shows Chippey being boxed up with a copy of the story to be shipped out to his family. If you've already adopted your own family's elf, this will just enhance your kids' excitement about their magical visitor, but if you haven't, it's probably going to make them want one.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the holidays. What are some of your family's favorite traditions during the holidays? How do you incorporate aspects of your culture or religious beliefs into them? What do you think is the true meaning of Christmas?

  • Kids: Was anything about this movie's presentation of the North Pole different from that of other specials you've watched? Which parts were your favorites? What other shows do you traditionally watch during the holidays?

  • How does TV influence our desires for certain products? Are there toys or games that you've seen in TV shows or movies that you want? How does this kind of advertising work?

Movie details

DVD/Streaming release date:November 26, 2011
Studio:CBS Films
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:24 minutes
MPAA rating:NR

This review of The Elf on the Shelf: An Elf's Story was written by

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Parent of a 1, 5, 7, and 7 year old Written byFowlerFan November 23, 2013


There are a lot of good Christmas shows out there ... the classics such as Rudolph and Frosty. Or new titles, such as the Prep and Landing series. This ... is not one of them. Syrupy and overdone. The musical numbers are cheesy. I guess kids will be okay with it, because after all, the bar is pretty low for 2 year olds.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written byp1xelpush3r June 7, 2012

Mind numbing & terrible

I can't believe this infomercial is even allowed to exist to educate our kids on how to be materialistic. There isn't a single original or interesting or clever idea in this movie and to compare it to Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer is pure malarkey. This is a driveling, obnoxious, sad excuse for a cartoon that holds no educational or moral value to benefit the future. There is no depth, no layer of subtlety, and boring simplistic design. It is simply a long commercial. My 4 year old was uninterested and forgot about it 2 minutes later. Skip this one - you'll thank me.
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Parent Written bybumpers November 27, 2011

elf in show says there is no santa

this is a good show but beware the first part of the movie. Santa says to the elf wow you have a big job to do this person does not believe in santa anymore. I realize there are a lot of shows that say it but why put the question in their mind. Just say he lost the spirit or magic. We all know what that means. later in the show the elf comes back saying he's sad he still has a lot of work to do and feels he's disappointing santa because the child still doesnt believe. in the end the child ends up believing. But like i said saying the words is very direct.