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‘Elf’ has the Christmas cheer we need in 2020

Will Ferrell in Elf (2003)
Will Ferrell, left, stars as Buddy in a scene from the 2003 film “Elf.”
Warner Home Video

Editor’s note: Do the Christmas classics still hold up in 2020? We take a look.

We need a little Christmas cheer after a difficult year, and “Elf” contains just that for all to hear.

The family comedy starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Edward Asner, Mary Steenburgen, Zooey Deschanel and more has become a staple of the holiday season since its release in 2003.

But the film took on new meaning for me this year. After the many trials 2020 brought with it, “Elf” was exactly the boost of Christmas spirit I needed.

Here’s a look at how “Elf” can still spread holiday cheer for all to hear.

The hilarious scenes bring Christmas spirit

One way the movie spreads Christmas cheer is through its many hilarious scenes. A few that I especially enjoyed this year were Buddy’s attempts to test a faulty jack-in-the box, go up a store escalator and put the star on top of a tall Christmas tree. And one can’t help but chuckle at Buddy’s epic burp next to Michael at the dinner table.

Will Ferrell, right, in a scene from the film “Elf.”
Will Ferrell, right, stars as Buddy in a scene from the 2003 film “Elf.”
Alan Markfield, New Line Productions

It’s built on Christmas classics

“Elf” also evokes holiday spirit in the way it pays homage to classic Christmas songs and films. The movie’s soundtrack features holiday favorites like Ella Fitzgerald’s “Sleigh Ride” and Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby.” These are all classic holiday songs that we hear every year. “Elf” brings these iconic songs right into the film, connecting us to our Christmas nostalgia.

And that’s not the only reference to classic Christmas material. The storybook credit sequences and scenes featuring North Pole animals and Leon the Snowman are also reminiscent of stop-motion Rankin and Bass Christmas staples like “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

And Buddy’s pivotal moment on a bridge at his lowest point in the film reminded me of a similar scene in the holiday classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” another Christmas classic. In one go, this film creates a new and original story while wrapping it a holiday classic bow.

Don’t forget the message

Lastly, the movie’s message is full of Christmas spirit. Buddy’s self-absorbed father, Walter Hobbs, realizes what is most important to him and puts his family first. Life might not be going the way we wish it was at the end of 2020, but Christmas is about remembering and honoring what matters most to us. Walter learns this lesson by listening to his sons. By doing so, he becomes full of Christmas cheer.

It’s a message centered around family, hope and love. And that’s exactly what Christmas is all about. The holiday season calls for us to spread cheer to everyone, sending our love to our families along the way. “Elf” reminds us of that, suggesting that we listen to those around us. And if you listen long enough, you’ll hear the holiday cheer that spreads once a year.