In the nearly two decades since its release (if you can believe it), Elf has gone from a critical favorite to a bonafide Christmas classic. It's also the movie that paved the way for Will Ferrell's movie stardom. Certainly, the comedy's endearing legacy is a credit to its sharp direction from Jon Favreau and its strong ensemble, which includes James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Ed Asner, and Bob Newhart. But Elf is undoubtedly Ferrell's film. And the SNL actor made the most of it, resulting in a seasonal sensation.
In the years since the movie's release, it's surprising that an Elf sequel hasn't been made. Certainly, the possibility is there to make a truly special follow-up to the beloved film, and I believe now might be the perfect time to make Elf 2. Here are just a few reasons why!
It Could Add To The Themes Of The Original Elf, Plus We Get A Chance To Catch Up With Buddy And His Family
Of course, one of the most appealing aspects of any sequel is reuniting with characters you loved from the original movie. To spend more time with them, to catch up on their lives, to see what they do when presented with new or unexpected circumstances — these are the hallmarks of an appealing follow-up.
Certainly, with several years (now decades) passed between the original Elf and this potential sequel, the chances are greater than ever before to build upon the themes found in the original movie. Particularly when it comes to dysfunctional/absentee fathers and finding one's sense of self in a world that doesn't put you in a comfortable box, it'd be interesting to see how Buddy the Elf fares as a father himself.
For instance, is Buddy the Elf a negligent dad? Particularly as he's a regressed child in a man's body? Or maybe he's overprotective — the result of not knowing his own father growing up as a human elf and, therefore, wanting to be the best possible dad possible, to the point of smothering (or whatever the father version of "smothering" is) his young daughter? Maybe his daughter wants to leave the North Pole to explore the world beyond, and Buddy the Elf tags along in the fear that she might lose her way and never return again? The ideas are there. We'll expand upon them more later in this article.
An Elf Sequel Could Give Will Ferrell A Mid-Career Boost
Right now, Will Ferrell's career isn't what it once was. I don't say that to be harsh. Rather, I'm examining it critically. Once, Ferrell was a bonafide A-list comedy star, frontlining major comedies like Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, Anchorman 1 and 2, Blades of Glory, The Other Guys, and several other high-grossing studio comedies seen throughout the '00s and early '10s. But after a series of flops and critical misfires, Ferrell's star power has waned.
Now, that doesn't mean Will Ferrell's career is dead. This year's Eurovision, for instance, drew a whole lot of eyeballs to Netflix upon its streaming debut. But particularly at a time when comedy movie stars are becoming less of a thing (and comedies aren't going to theaters as consistently), one couldn't help but wonder if Elf 2 is the mid-career bump that Ferrell needs.
Over the years, Will Ferrell has expressed resistance at the possibility of making another Elf movie. In fact, at one point, he reportedly turned down $29 million to make this sequel. The reason was simple: Ferrell didn't want to make a sequel simply for the sake of making of a sequel because if it stunk, the comedic actor would be crushed by the rejection that this hypothetical ill-fated follow-up would receive. It was better to not risk it than to make something that wasn't up to the original's high standards. Though, in recent years, Ferrell has potentially changed his tune on sequels.
This past decade, he made both 2013's Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (which he also co-wrote) and 2016's Zoolander 2. While the latter was panned and the former wasn't as beloved as the original, the fact that these movies exist showcases Will Ferrell's relatively recent willingness to return to his beloved characters.
Additionally, James Caan noted earlier this year that an Elf sequel originally didn't happen because Will Ferrell and director Jon Favreau didn't get along too well during production on the first film. But considering how busy The Lion King (2019) director has been in recent years, it's nearly a given that a new director would make the sequel. Perhaps a new filmmaker at the helm with an inspired idea could get Ferrell invested in this movie?
It Would Hopefully Give Audiences Another Christmas Classic
There's no shortage of Christmas delights out there. Christmas is a favorite holiday for many people, and the December-based holiday has become an enterprise for retail stores, chocolate factories, the Hallmark Channel, and various other businesses to build on the seasonal joy of gifting and giving. In the spirit of staying at home and watching a movie around the fire, however, Elf is now an all-time Christmas classic. If your household is similar to mine, you've seen Elf dozens of times over many winter holidays. Elf DVDs/Blu-rays worldwide are basically worn-out by now. It'd be nice to add another Christmas classic to the rotation.
So, how great would it be if Elf 2 provided such Christmas bliss? Sequels — especially comedy sequels — are always a gamble. But if this one is good, it could become a Christmas staple, just like the original.
Elf 2 Could Bring Back Optimism And Cheer, Especially When It's Needed Again
These are dark and gloomy times. In the midst of the ongoing pandemic, which has taken the lives of over 219,000-plus Americans alone, we've been seeing an onslaught of misery and misfortune. Especially in New York City, it's a pretty bleak place. Over 32,000 New Yorkers have died this year from COVID-related illnesses, and the numbers haven't stopped. It could be a good while before New Yorkers feel safe and comfortable in their hometown.
Certainly, we could use some optimism again. Something that brings joy, laughter, and, most of all, hope into the hearts of many discouraged and disillusioned people worldwide. There's no guarantee that Elf 2 will do the trick, but it's easy to forget that the original Elf came only a couple of years following the tragedy of 9/11. Will Ferrell has spoken in the past about how moving it was to see New Yorkers coming together during the film's climactic scenes. Hopefully, when it becomes safe and feasible to be together once more in the Big Apple, maybe Elf 2 could help us come together again in the spirit of seasonal good tidings. After all, it's like Buddy once said, "the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!"
Elf 2 Could Be Will Ferrell's Way Of Passing The Torch To A New Generation Of Comedy Stars
Now that nearly 18 years have passed since Elf's 2003 debut, little baby Susie seen at the movie's tail-end will be nearly grown-up and ready to take on the world-at-large outside of the North Pole. Perhaps she wants to make a trip to New York City to visit her grandparents? Or maybe she wants to find her own independence, away from the chilly condors of her wintery home.
No matter what the reason might be, it's easy to see how Elf 2 could be a father-daughter bonding trip through which a young, up-and-coming comedy starlet could take on this lead role and shine. If Will Ferrell is worried that he doesn't have it in him to play Buddy the Elf like he once did, perhaps this sequel idea would make him more comfortable?
Rather than make the movie strictly about Buddy the Elf's return, it could allow Will Ferrell to highlight the talents of a newcomer, all while he gets the chance to return to one of his most popular and beloved characters in an emotional and meaningful fashion. Instead of repeating the formula from the first movie, this possibility of Buddy the Elf renewing his childlike wonder by seeing the world through his daughter's eyes could prove to be a fruitful and exciting premise for this potential sequel.
Certainly, the screenwriters could draw some interesting parallels and develop on the ideas sprung from the first film in a funny but also unique and involving fashion. The family theme could also make this new movie resonate with audiences young and old — similar to how the themes of fatherhood seen in the original movie made it a Christmas classic for audiences of all ages.
Should Will Ferrell finally bring us the gift of Elf 2? Or is it better left in the cold? Let us know in the comment section!
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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