Review of Santa Claus: The Movie – Dudley Moore shines like a Christmas ornament in the original Elf.


Honestly, I have some skepticism about this sappy Christmas film from 1985, directed by Jeannot Szwarc and recently re-released. If it weren’t for my sentimental attachment to the holiday season, I would question why there weren’t any consequences for those involved in making it. The movie only becomes somewhat enjoyable when Dudley Moore’s lively elf becomes the focus.

Although there are likely better holiday movies that should be shown before this one, I personally have a soft spot for cheesy Christmas sentimentality and cannot completely reject this peculiar and eventful origin story of Santa Claus. David Huddleston portrays the jolly, bearded gift-giver known as Claus, who is a culturally ambiguous figure from Europe or Scandinavia and enjoys giving presents to children in the village. He is called to his mythical fate during a deadly snowstorm, reminiscent of Superman’s arrival at the Fortress of Solitude. Dudley Moore plays Patch, an elf loyal to Claus who experiences a profound crisis of purpose, and Burgess Meredith plays the elder elf who surprisingly possesses the height of a full-grown human. In a strange elf ceremony, he proclaims Claus as “the one chosen” for a mysterious reason.

Patch experiences unfamiliar adventures in the bustling city of New York, where he meets the avaricious BZ, portrayed by John Lithgow, and a young impoverished child with a smudged face. Moore then showcases his comedic talent with a blend of Arthurian charm and wordplay involving the term “elf”. Years later, Will Ferrell would also explore the concept of an elf navigating life outside of the North Pole with comedic success. This film can be likened to the uneaten toffee that often remains at the bottom of a tin of Quality Street candies.