There are many things that symbolise Christmas time for different people; colourfully decorated trees, stockings hanging on the mantle, and watching Christmas movies with the family. When it comes to the latter, one man embodies the spirit of Christmas better than anyone, and that man is Will Ferrell.
Between the classic 2000s movie Elf and his new musical Spirited, Ferrell has been involved in two cracking Christmas movies that will always be a part of my annual viewing traditions. The former is one of the most iconic festive films of all time, and the latter is a surprisingly endearing twist on the Dickensian tale of A Christmas Carol.
Though they may be very different stories, these feel-good movies excel because of Ferrell’s talents. But what about the actor makes him such a comforting and entertaining presence within the Christmas setting?
Better known for his comedy movies, and far less family-friendly ones at that, it may seem odd that a performer more accustomed to teabagging drum kits and licking white dog shit would be such a staple of the holiday season.
Therein lies the appeal of Will Ferrell’s Christmas capers, though. While Elf is fundamentally a kids movie full of silly, very visual jokes, there’s still plenty of humour that works on a more mature level, too.
Moments like Buddy the Elf gifting his estranged father lingerie or when Buddy accidentally gets drunk with the mailroom workers are still fun for younger viewers but cater more to an older audience without ever being inappropriate.
For a decidedly more adult approach, the new Apple TV Plus movie Spirited does the trick. In our Spirited review we commended the manner in which both Ferrell and his co-star Ryan Reynolds abandon their standard quippy methods for a more emotional and serious tone.
That’s not to say it’s not a fun movie. It definitely is, and Spirited manages to strike a lovely balance of humour and heart thanks to Ferrell and Reynolds’ chemistry and showmanship.
In both Elf and Spirited, Ferrell displays his wonderful aptitude for comedy. He’s a fantastic physical comedian, and the role of Buddy the Elf, in particular, allows him to really dive into that aspect of his work.
From the first time Buddy encounters an escalator to tickle fights with his reluctant father, Ferrell brings such a playful energy to the role, and it’s a joy to watch. It’s not all slapstick comedy, though, with Ferrell also offering brilliant facial expressions and line delivery.
Let’s not forget, too, that Ferrell also enjoys a musical number or two and has a surprisingly good singing voice. There are actually very few Will Ferrell movies in which he doesn’t sing, come to think of it, and I think that’s indicative of his genuine love of being an entertainer.
His passion for Christmas really shines through in both Elf and Spirited. Maybe Ferrell is just really good at convincing us he loves the festive period, but it certainly seems as though he throws himself into these projects with a dedication to producing something memorable and meaningful.
It would have been very easy for Ferrell to phone it in for a streaming service movie which adapts such tried and tested material, but I get the feeling he and the whole team were determined to create something fresh and original that can be enjoyed year after year.
That’s the beauty of a great Christmas movie. There can be a true permanence to them if you get it right. Christmas is the best time of year; it brings people together, it makes us happy, and it teaches us the value of generosity and love.
That may be cheesy, but they are all important components of the human experience, and Will Ferrell gets that. Not only is he funny, endearing, and charming, but he also comes across as quite simply being inherently and exceedingly nice too.
I would say movies like Elf, and now Spirited, make the world a better place, and that’s largely down to the magic of Ferrell’s performances. If you’re looking for a star to light up your Christmas, you needn’t look any further than Will Ferrell.
For more Christmas fun, check out our list of the best Netflix Christmas movies or the best Disney Plus Christmas movies. If it’s the big man in red you prefer, dive into our list of the best Santa Claus movies.