Elf is one of the few Christmas movies I can stand, sitting alongside The Nightmare Before Christmas, Die Hard, and Gremlins. It’s been a holiday staple with our kid since she was old enough to look at the television screen to watch it, so it makes sense to drop some knowledge on everyone concerning this magical movie.
1. Jim Carrey was supposed to star as Buddy the Elf but decided to broaden his theatrical horizons by starring in two movies in 2004: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events instead.
2. Will Ferrell took the role, of course, but declined the chance to appear in a sequel in 2013. Not even $49 million could get him to squeeze back into the tights (thankfully).
3. Ferrell suffered headaches during filming from eating the disgusting and overly sugared food that made up Buddy’s diet. He actually threw up during one of the eating scenes, requiring a second take.
4. In fact, the cotton balls Buddy eats while in the doctor’s waiting office were undyed cotton candy balls.
5. The Santa arriving at the Gimbels scene had to be done in one take due to the time and money it would take to restore the set to its pre-destruction state.
6. Director Jon Favreau preferred practical effects to computer-generated ones, relenting only for the snowball fight. For scenes showing Ferrell with the other elves, Favreau used forced perspective to make his lead actor look gargantuan compared to the other actors.
7. Amy Sedaris portrayed James Caan’s secretary in the movie. When Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) meets Buddy the Elf, she asks if Crumpet put him up to his little act. Sedaris’ brother, David, is a writer who related the story of his time as an elf named Crumpet in his anthology The Santaland Diaries. Coincidence?
8. Ferrell and Favreau hit the streets of New York on the last day of filming to get footage of Buddy experiencing the city for the first time. They asked random passersby if they wanted to be in the movie and filmed his shoeshine, hopscotch, and other opening activities on that day.
9. During the scene where Buddy tested the jack-in-the-box toys, Favreau controlled them remotely. The anxious expressions on Ferrell’s face were real, as was his surprise when the jack would pop out of its box.
10. Buddy’s gigantic burp at the dinner table (“DID YOU HEAR THAT??”) was performed by Maurice LaMarche, a veteran voice actor known for his roles as The Brain (Pinky and the Brain) and several voices on Futurama. Instead of a real belch, LaMarche was able to use his tongue to create the long, uninterrupted burping noise for the shot.