5 Reasons ‘Elf’ Is a Gen Z Christmas Classic

3. Elf’s 2000s Aesthetic

It’s no secret that the 2000s aesthetic has made a huge comeback recently, from Baby Phat collaborating with Forever 21 to fashion reselling app Depop having over 1.5 million items tagged by sellers as “Y2K.” Elf captures the “Y2K” aesthetic authentically. 

Packed department stores and malls prior to the rise in online shopping, people using pagers and flip phones, and Jovie’s (Zooey Deschanel’s) style outside of the toy store, return viewers to the era.

In the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, many people are nostalgic for a time before masks and social distancing, especially in a city as hard hit as New York has been.

4. Elf’s Iconic Cast

Will Ferrell is no doubt one of the most recognizable comedians of the 21st century, and while older generations may remember his start on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in the mid-90s, most members of Gen Z would probably say that Elf was their introduction to him. Elf was one of Ferrell’s first big projects post-SNL, and helped to establish him as a mainstay in comedy for the following decade. 

Will Ferrell’s sincerity throughout his performance as Buddy makes the humor land perfectly; it’s easy to see that if another actor with a fraction of the enthusiasm of Ferrell had played Buddy, the humor would be awkward and the film as a whole would fall flat, shifting its status from classic to cringe. 

In addition, Zooey Deschanel, as his co-star and romantic interest, is a draw for younger viewers from her role in the popular sitcom ‘New Girl’, which ran from 2011-2018 as well as her musical ability as part of the duo She & Him, which has released two Christmas albums.

5. Elf’s Commentary on Holiday Burnout and Commercialism

Ultimately, Elf is a film about a man’s search to find his purpose in life. His discovery is that, for him, his purpose is to help bring joy back into the Christmas season for his loved ones. 

From Walter’s unavoidable Christmas Eve pitch meeting to Jovie’s frustration with unrealistic expectations of retail employees, Elf reflects the unfortunately familiar burnout and hustle cultures that permeate the holiday season, with most viewers understanding Jovie’s sentiment: “I’m just trying to get through the holidays.” 

Even the elves in the North Pole have toy-making quotas for Christmas, and Buddy’s short-comings in this area end up being the catalyst for his journey to New York and the greater plot of the film. 

Still, Buddy views Christmas as the best time of year, while everyone else seems to want to rush through it because of the pressure that comes with working through the season. Through Buddy’s genuine joy for Christmas and his kindness towards others, the supporting characters also find happiness when they choose family, friends and community over the demands of a cold and impersonal work culture.

Recommended for you: 5 Reasons Why ‘Klaus’ (2019) Is an Amazing Christmas Film

Written by Nicole Sanacore

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