Xpress, the Coolest Section of the St. Petersburg Times, is the home for features, news and views of interest to young readers. Most of the work in Xpress, which appears on Mondays in Floridian, is produced by the Times' X-Team. The team of journalists ages 9-17 from around the Tampa Bay area is selected every year at the end of the school year to serve during the following school term. The current team of 12 was chosen out of 150 applicants. Watch for X-Team application forms in Xpress during the month of May.

Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

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Movie review

'Elf' has king-size appeal

Published November 10, 2003

Bob Newhart and Will Ferrell
[New Line Cinema]
In Elf, Will Ferrell, right, plays a human raised at the North Pole by one of Santa’s senior elves, played by Bob Newhart.
Billy Norris
Read the reviews by Xpress Film Critic Billy Norris

Movie: Elf

Rating: PG for some mildly rude humor

Summary: Buddy (Will Ferrell) is a human who has grown up making toys with elves at the North Pole. After living in an orphanage for a short time as an infant, he crawled unnoticed into Santa's toy bag on Christmas Eve. Upon their return to the North Pole, Santa (Ed Asner) and his elves decide to take on the baby as a protege of sorts, and he is adopted by one of the senior elves (Bob Newhart). Buddy believes he is an elf, but he has always noticed he doesn't have the same magical touch as the others. When he one day discovers that he is human and his biological father (James Caan) lives in New York City, he sets off to live in harmony with him - or so he thinks. As it turns out, life isn't all sugarplums and Christmas cheer in the human world.

My View: Will Ferrell is great on Saturday Night Live, but I questioned whether his style would work well in a family-oriented holiday film. To my pleasant surprise, Elf is extremely funny, and it exceeded my expectations. Buddy is such a happy, innocent elf, you can't help but like him. Ferrell's gags and jokes overflow with silliness, and I couldn't help laughing out loud. The movie (good naturedly) spoofs traditional long-running children's holiday shows, such as 1964's animated Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and that satirical edge is definitely aimed at audience members old enough to see the parallel. The casting of Asner, Newhart and Caan also creates a wider appeal for the movie. But there's plenty to keep everyone happy: It's a cheerful flick filled with affable characters.

Recommendations: I heartily recommend this movie to families. It's not as dumb as it looks, so give it a shot. Elf is harmless holiday fun.

Grade: B

- Billy Norris, 15, is in the 10th grade at Seminole High School and is a former member of the Times X-Team.

[Last modified November 7, 2003, 14:19:10]

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