Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Commentary Review -- Elf

I really like Elf, even though I actively fear periods of long exposure to Will Ferrell. Elf combines the maximum of Christmas Cheer with the minimum of Will Ferrell's naked body. On a side note, I have mentally subtitled this film, "ELF: Why in the hell couldn't that coat be eight inches longer?"

The DVD commentary features, not one, but two one-fers: You've got Will Ferrell talking about Will Ferrell, and Jon Favreau actually talking about the film. My favorite DVD commentary has two or three people from the film talking about the film like old friends over some beers in a pub. My least favorite type features the dreaded splice, where folks are spliced together because no-one could be bothered to settle down together. Nothing says, "I'm too important to thoughtfully comment on my work", like a splice. After the splice there's the sometimes good, sometimes not so good one-fer.

Unless you're the director why would you do a one-fer commentary? I mean, do you really think you're that witty? Do you think you'll be able to pull off talking for 90 plus minutes, and not sound like a self-indulgent ass? As we have both Jon, the director, and Will, the self-indulgent ass's's's's commentaries available let's compare...

Jon on Ed Asner: He really brings up quality of the film. We were so lucky to have him.
Will on Ed Asner: He's old.

Jon on opening credits: Because I'm the director I got to voice the arctic puffin and these little creatures in the opening credits. I had a great deal of fun voicing them. I wanted these opening credits to be nostalgic, to bring adults back to their childhood.
Will on the opening credits: That's Jon's voice.

Jon knows the names of his set designer, he knows the film work of every person he worked with, and he's got something nice to say about all of them! It's like listening to Mel Brooks talk about Young Frankenstein. Jon loves film. His love comes across so strongly. He doesn't just love his own films, he loves other people's films as well. I had forgotten to see The Station Agent, it had simply passed me by, but once I heard Jon talk about it I went out and snapped it up immediately.

The weird thing is that Will Ferrell is most likely operating from the same knowledge base as Jon; he just doesn't think the film experience is as interesting as himself. It was like listening to Bill Paxton's commentary on Frailty, except that I couldn't hear the cogs screeching in agony as he fought for any sentence that sounded vaguely intellectual. Will is a smart guy, but the thing that Will knows the most about is, well, it's Will and boy does he love to talk about it.

In any event, I can't wait to start hunting down films on which Jon Favreau speaks. It's a mocha-latte-cappacino kind of thing. Put the fluffy slippers on, the pouffy robe that you never let anyone else see, start the fire, and then put on Jon Favreau's voice like a warm blanket.

Yeah baby.

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