Ages 11 and under
Male and Female
Meet my good friend, Buddy the Elf.
Well, actually, he’s not an elf, he’s a human, but raised by elves. Well more like, he found his way into Santa’s bag of toys as a baby and ended up at the North Pole. There he was raised thinking he was an elf, and when he was thirty he learned the truth: he’s a human whose father lives in a magical place far away called New York City. As he leaves the North Pole to find his father, who never even knew he was born, he learns that the world outside the North Pole is not so magical after all. Out there in the big city, people have no Christmas spirit, as they rely too heavily on raising their businesses rather than their children. It’s true then and it’s true now—people do not appreciate the end of the year as a time to reflect with loved ones. Now my good friend Buddy will change all that.
The moments that tell us about Buddy’s life in the North Pole breeze by without too many interesting things happening, but once he arrives at the Big Apple, all audiences: young and old, big and small, mature and naïve, will love seeing this impulsive grown adult responding to the harsh city with a childlike innocence. Will Ferrell (Anchorman, Stranger Than Fiction) gives Buddy such a sugary personality to the role that kids watching will gladly imitate his progression into reality while sustaining his optimism.
All of Buddy’s childish acts of selflessness are simply the best: he takes a “world’s best” public claim from an unknown coffee shop literally, he says hello to everyone even if they respond with a scowl, he decorates homes with paper snowflakes and streamers in minutes, he effortlessly creates a flawless Mona Lisa on an Etch-a-Sketch, and he lives off a strict diet of candy and syrup. You will die of laughter from his sunshiny optimism in a mean city, and his exposure to reality after thirty years gives a serious case of the giggles.
Pretty much everything is done right in this timeless depiction of the famous city. If I was like Buddy coming to civilization for the first time, I too would spin indefinitely through rotating doors, hop on the individual bars on crossing lanes, and maybe even pick gum off the street, basically anything an unsupervised child would do.
There is no ethnic diversity in the city comparative to its rich immigrant history, but the brain and heart of the Big Apple are still pumping. Buddy’s father, Walter Hobbs, works for the children’s book publishing corporation, which represents everything about the working class of New York in the early 2000’s: money is put above providing for the family, risks are taken wherever possible to trim budgets, and politeness is trashed to reach an easy solution to a crisis. That’s the brains of the city, but there’s still the crucial heart that is never seen but vital for livelihood: the mailroom that Buddy gets to work at. It’s grimy, it’s grey, it smells like mushrooms, the men all look like they slithered out of the gutter, and they never get credit for allowing the business of the holiday season to flow.
Then out of the underground and below the greedy corporations, there’s Gimbel’s department store, where our focus is on the stunning customer representative, Jovie, played by Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer, New Girl). She looks confused all the time in her performance, but her addition to Buddy’s story is as sweet as any gingerbread house.
What may aggravate you the most as you follow Buddy’s journey is the number of things that make zero, and I mean zip-nada sense. Say for instance, why is there a six-year-old girl watching the news alone in her bed on Christmas Eve? No child would even wish to do that. Then to top it all off, the entire third act features no logic or reason or humor. But, anything to make us feel happy I guess. If you ask me, the middle segment is the only part worth watching.
Then finally, let me just say this: I can’t believe how much sugar one man can take! Buddy, having grown up in an elf environment, has the natural tendency to sleep for forty minutes each night, and live off the four major food groups (Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corns, and Syrup). So here’s the catch: his breakfast of choice is spaghetti smothered with maple syrup, sprinkles chocolate chips, marshmallows, chocolate syrup, M&Ms, and chocolate fudge pop tarts… hashtag diabetes! I applaud Will Ferrell for sacrificing his health for the role. So as long as you let your kids know never to eat something that messy and disgusting, there will be long lost smiles all around!
Work interference, family gatherings, getting out of debt, resolving past conflicts with other family, it seems like for a season so brimming in joy, to some it can be the most stress-inducing time of year. We too wish that there was a Buddy the Elf who could wander into our city and enlighten the mood. But we can’t help it! It’s part of human nature, especially in America, to always be busy! So why does Christmas of all holidays have to be the busiest while also the “happiest” time of year?
It’s difficult as well for somebody with autism to enjoy this time of year due to the hectic disorder of everything.
I mean, think about it: there are always planned events getting suddenly canceled or one family member preferring to do one thing rather than another. It’s rare for all your desires to be met during Christmas when the entire family is together. It’s even possible for the unthinkable to happen because of the busy nature: one could fall into debt, the heavy snow could cause a car crash, a family member could get hospitalized after getting his arm broken by an angry mall shopper, whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
How can people with autism, whom are more prone to holding on to negative emotions, sustain their joy in “the most wonderful time of year?”
While the answer can be different for anybody, the best answer I can give is to stop the busyness and not make Christmas such a big deal. What I mean is to simply tone down the traditions. This is not to say that they are meaningless, but to be more conscious about keeping a child with autism happy.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #29: Some Can Have Sudden Mood Swings.
Anything in this time of year can set them off, no matter how small the situation may look in your own perspective. One of my biggest problems with significant holidays is when something bad happens, even a small thing that means nothing, it is amplified in my mind and it becomes all I remember from that day—nothing else positive from then means anything. So if an individual with autism thought about Christmas, he would instantly associate it with when mom scolded him at age seven for stealing a cookie. The comparison of good vs. bad things that happened that day is meaningless, just one small bad thing will tip the scale.
They can’t feel joy, because the stress felt by everybody else is too much for them to even notice the joy.
According to Buddy the Elf, “the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” While the movie may take this statement a little too literally, there’s still one profound point about this to remember: displaying a positive attitude is contagious. If you learn to set your priorities in the right place, then joy will come naturally, and everyone else around you, including your autistic children, will feel happy along with you.
Six-Word Lessons on Growing Up Autistic, Lesson #100: Put Love as Your Top Priority.
This means making some sacrifices; maybe getting a job that doesn’t require work on Christmas? Or maybe celebrate Christmas traditions on someday beside December 25th? That’s what my family always does to accommodate to my sister’s hectic work schedule as a nurse, if she ever has to work on Christmas day then we do our present opening on Christmas Eve.
- Don’t let work be an excuse to lay off family time. Whether you realize it or not, he/she wants you around and wants you to love spending time with him/her. Don’t pass this opportunity up.
- But at the same time, keep that even balance between work and family. While family still should have priority, know that you need to bring in your house income as well. It may mean that you celebrate Christmas on December 20th instead, but that’s okay!
- Know that there are no binding rules that say you have to keep to a set of guidelines to celebrate Christmas. You could even limit your Christmas to gift exchanges and dinner and nothing more. It’s all about what works best for everyone in the family, especially those members with autism.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Des Moines Foodster. Buddy The Elf Breakfast Recipe - Des Moines Foodster. Video. YouTube, 3 Dec 2014. Web. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuD-SiYEu-0>.
Stopera, Dave. 18 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Movie “Elf”. Digital image. Buzzfeed Rewind. Buzzfeed Inc., 7 Nov 2013. Web. <https://www.buzzfeed.com/daves4/18-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-movie-elf?utm_term=.yvyYgxWM1#.mwBpk2KMJ>.