Before you get all "THAT'S NOT A THROWBACK" on me, let me remind you that Elf came out in 2003, making it 14 years old. That, in my books, is plenty of time for us to feel intense nostalgia over what is arguably Will Ferrell's best work ever.
Though the movie is pretty popular, there are some things you may not have known about the Christmas classic!
1. Role Stole
It may seem impossible to picture anyone else as Buddy the Elf, but the part was not meant for Will Ferrell at all. The first script was written in 1993, when comedic genius Jim Carrey was reigning Hollywood funnyman. However, it took 10 years for the film to actually get made, and by that point Will Ferrell was taking over. He got the role, while Carrey starred in Bruce Almighty that same year.
Director Jon Favreau wanted the film to feel old-fashioned, even though it was made in the new millennium. He chose to use as little CGI and special effects as possible, and used stop-motion animation to mimic classics like Rudolph. Favreau used old filming techniques, like forced perspective, to make Buddy seem larger. There were also two separate sets used to film: a large one for the elves to seem smaller, and a small one to make Santa and Buddy seem large.
3. Real Santa
Will Ferrell may play an Elf in the movie, but in real life he was actually a mall Santa! Ferrell revealed that he and fellow SNL co-star, Chris Kattan worked at an outdoor mall when they were first starting out. Ferrell was Santa, while Kattan was an elf.
“It was hilarious because little kids could care less about the elf. They just come right to Santa Claus. So by the second weekend, Kattan had dropped the whole affection he was doing and was like, ‘Santa’s over there, kid.'"
4. A Little CGI
Though Favreau wanted to use as little CGI as possible, there were some scenes that required it. When Buddy and Michael are in a snowball fight with the school bullies, it's obviously CGI. All the snowballs were added in during post-production, and there wasn't any snow around when it was shot!
5. Big (Little) Bullies
In the original 1993 version of Elf, buddy leaves the North Pole because the other elves bully him. There's a deleted scene where the elves and Buddy are playing hockey on a frozen pond, but when Buddy steps on the ice it turns violent. Favreau decided to cut this plot point because he didn't want to portray North Pole characters as mean. He wanted them to be warm and friendly, which explains why Buddy is so nice to all the people in New York even when they're mean to him.