Elf (2003) – 4K Ultra HD Review

Elf, 2003.

Directed by Jon Favreau.
Starring: Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Edward Asner, and Bob Newhart.


The modern holiday classic Elf arrives on 4K with image quality that’s greatly improved over the 2008 Blu-ray, which is included too. No new extras were commissioned for this edition, but Warner Bros. ported over the legacy bonus features and included a code for a digital copy too.

Sure, I’m biased on this subject since I grew up during that era, but the 70s and 80s seemed like a golden age for holiday specials, with the Rankin-Bass and Peanuts ones becoming enduring classics. There’s always room in the stocking for a modern-day classic, though, and 2003’s Elf has proven to be just that.

Starring Will Ferrell fresh from his run on Saturday Night Live and directed by Jon Favreau before he hit the mega big time with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Star Wars small-screen shows, Elf feels like a throwback to those old specials, including a nice nod to the Rankin Bass shows as Ferrell’s Buddy the Elf leaves the North Pole in search of his father.

I won’t get into a full recitation of the plot, since I imagine you at least know the basics of this one, but Elf is a sweet little film that revels in the joys of Christmas, as corny as that sounds. It also helped cement Ferrell’s reputation as a bonafide comedy movie star, with Ed Asner, Bob Newhart, and James Caan providing solid supporting performances. And, of course, it helped catapult Zooey Deschanel’s career to greater heights.

This is the movie’s first spin on 4K, and it looks fabulous. Unsurprisingly, the higher resolution really makes Elf’s primary color palette pop onscreen, and it’s a big improvement over the 2008 Blu-ray, which is included here too. The only bonus features found on the 4K platter are a pair of commentary tracks, giving the film plenty of room for maximum bit rates. (Yes, there’s a code for a digital copy too.)

The audio commentaries are repeated on the Blu-ray too. They’re both solo tracks, one with Favreau and one with Ferrell, and each one is a good listen, but it does feel like a missed opportunity that they didn’t do one together. Sure, that could have gone sideways, especially given Ferrell’s comedic tendencies, but it would have been interesting to hear both of them bounce anecdotes and various tidbits off each other. As they are, though, these are good tracks with plenty of interesting info.

Warner Bros. didn’t commission any new extras for this edition, but they did port over the legacy bonus features, including a 39-minute documentary broken into four featurettes. The material here mostly complements the commentary tracks and provides a good look at the making of the film.

There’s also a batch of five featurettes that are labeled “kid-friendly.” The first one runs through the making of the film from a kid point-of-view, which isn’t such a bad idea, given how many kids love Elf. It’s actually an interesting featurette for adults, although the rest of the featurettes are aimed squarely at the kid demo and focus on various Christmas traditions.

Up next is a batch of eight deleted and alternate scenes that run about 12 minutes, with optional commentary from Favreau. Elf only runs 97 minutes, so it would be tempting to want a cut that includes some of this footage, but sometimes with movies, less is more, and this is one of those times.

There’s also a feature called Focus Points that summons short clips every time an icon pops up, but it’s mostly repurposed material. Finally, a trio of Elf Christmas songs (karaoke style), a trivia track about the movie and the holiday, and the theatrical trailer round out the platter.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★

Brad Cook


Leave a Comment