Google “best Christmas movie”. No, I’m serious, do it. I’ll wait… What you are currently seeing is Home Alone ranked #1 and Elf ranked #8. I would have to agree with Google’s billion-dollar algorithm, considering the classic that is Home Alone. Everyone can sympathize with being a child and wanting to be free of their parents’ tyrannical rule. This movie toys with the prospect of a boy being left alone for a week and some incredible scenes come out of it. From Kevin eating popcorn while jumping on his bed to combing his hair and spraying on cologne, we are able to witness the range of activities that Kevin elects to do while his parents are away. This movie is also just a great family movie for the Christmas holidays because of its Christmas themes of love and family. At the beginning of the movie, Kevin has a temper tantrum and wishes for his family to disappear. After he is left alone, however, he realizes that the Christmas holiday wouldn’t be the same without his loving, although sometimes annoying, family. Contrary to what my Elf-loving counterpart suggests, Home Alone would be a completely different movie without the holiday setting because Christmas provides the perfect backdrop for the main lesson in the movie: loving those around us and appreciating what we have. There is a reason Home Alone is ranked #1 on Google; it is a classic movie with comedy for all age groups that perfectly meshes with any family’s Christmas festivities.
Not only is Elf better at incorporating the topic of Christmas into the movie, but it also has a less repetitive storyline and well-thought-out humor that is more layered than the simple slapstick comedy found in Home Alone. To start, the premise of the story is entirely unique and unlike any other Christmas movie. Home Alone just happens to occur at Christmas time when Kevin is accidentally left at home – the story could just as easily take place over summer vacation or at some other time. The simple fact that the story is occurring during Christmas provides no substance to the story other than a few holiday-themed jokes and an excuse for the main problem of the story. If you take the whole Christmas theme out, you can tweak a few details and still end up with the same story, which cannot be said about Elf.
Will Ferrell, a much more loved and respected figure than Macaulay Culkin, portrays an abnormally large elf who finds himself leaving the North Pole for the first time in search of his birth family. Buddy, Ferrell’s character, has one main problem, however: society is full of people, places, and things he does not quite understand. We see Buddy’s struggle with the escalator, an iconic scene that has been recreated numerous times, his lack of culinary skills (save the four main food groups: candy, candy cane, candy corn, and syrup and, of course, spaghetti), and his misunderstanding of personal boundaries and the meaning of “for that special someone.” His childish demeanor and passion for family ultimately create a lovable and entertaining character with many different dynamics, while Kevin and the two robbers have seemingly one-dimensional personalities. Elf simply incorporates love and joy into the storyline associated with the spirit of Christmas, something Home Alone does not address.
Whether it’s a simple quote from Buddy like “Good news! I saw a dog today!” or his reaction to when he hears Santa is coming to the mall, his lovable goofiness never fail to amuse. If comedy based on pain is your thing, then by all means, Home Alone is the movie for you. However, if you desire a film that has all the humor of Kevin McCallister’s experience supplemented with a love story, a new-found family, and a tale of redemption, Elf is definitely the right choice.