Great Christmas movies are hard to find these days. Every year the television networks show the classics: “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story” and, of course, “Die Hard”. But Hollywood has been slacking off on Christmas spirit for a while. Are audiences in store for another lackluster turnout? Will the next screen version of “Peter Pan” or “Cheaper by the Dozen” serve this year’s big screen Christmas needs? Luckily, the excitement and joy of the holidays has come a little early this year, in the package of a 6’3″ elf.

In “Elf,” directed by Jon Favreau (of “Swingers” fame), the gangly Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human raised by Santa Claus (Ed Asner) and his gang of worker elves. For his first 30 years, Buddy doesn’t want to see himself as different. Assimilated through toys and candy, he lives a happy life, but has doubts all the same. Buddy wonders why he’s so large, hairy and much slower at assembling toys than the other elves. He feels at home and displaced at the same time, unable to fully address his own identity.

After a string of mishaps in Santa’s workshop, Buddy’s adopted father, Papa Elf (Bob Newhart), finally tells his son the truth. Determined to understand his past, Buddy sets off to find his real family in New York City, a place far removed from his cozy home at the North Pole. Buddy finds his father, Walter Hobbes (James Caan), a workaholic children’s book publisher on the brink of being consumed by greed. Out of place and unwanted, Buddy uses his na