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December 26, 2003 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-12-26

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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Will Ferrell plays "Buddy," who been raised at the North Pole as an elf and
Jewish actor James Caan stars as his biological father, Walter, a New York City
businessman: The parent-child theme, as well as the holiday connection, drew
director Favreau when he read David Berenbaum's hilarious but poignant script.

school, the holiday reinforced his
feeling of being "the outsider."
"Everywhere there were Christmas
Time helped, as did the Jewish tra-
lights
and Christmas trees, and I'd go
dition of naming one's child after a
to
school
and everyone was singing
deceased loved one. (Favreau, who.
Christmas
carols, which were gor-
is married to a Jewish doctor, has a
geous
to
hea•,"
he said. "I would sing,
2-year-old, Max, and a 7-month-old,
too,
except
I'd
keep
my mouth shut
Madeleine.)
whenever
we
got
to
'Jesus
Christ.'"
But his mother's death "had affect-
But
Asner
curtly
dismisses
those
ed my view of Christmas," he said. "I
who
ask
why
a
Jewish
actor
is
por-
began looking for a Christmas movie,
traying
Santa.
"Forget
the
identifica-
to allow me to deal with my issues."
tion with Christmas," he said of Elf
When Elfcame along, he added, "I
"The film inculcates a spirit of
did little things to hook me in."
togetherness,
which is priceless, espe-
When Buddy flips through his late
cially
during
these
terrible times."
mother's yearbook, for example, the
Favreau
and
Berenbaum,
too, have
camera lingers on Madeleine's pic-
fielded
the
"Why
is
a
nice
Jewish
boy
ture. Favreau — who's written a
making
a
Christmas
movie"
question:
Chasidic gunfighter movie as well —
"Relatives ask, 'So, when's the
also reworked the story to make it "a
little more tender" and an homage • Chanukah film coming out,"' said
Berenbaum, who did write and direct
to New York City after Sept. 11.
an Internet Jewish parody of the
Yet he drew on the same cinematic
Budweiser Whassup ads, Shalom.'
inspirations that influenced
"And I'll say, 'Well, you know,
Berenbaum: Buddy's money-obsessed
Chanukah
doesn't have the same cin-
father is a kind of modern-day
ematic
tradition
as Christmas.' "
Scrooge; a lavishly decorated depart-
Although
Elf
revolves
around the
ment store references Miracle on
Yuletide
season,
Favreau
— who
34th Street and the quaint Elf village
keeps
a
Jewish
home

feels
it has
draws on the animated TV special
Jewish
values.
"The
holiday
captures
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
what is best in Judaism," he said.
To play the irascible but warm-
"It's about selflessness, charity and
hearted Santa, Favreau cast gruff TV
the
community coming together."
icon Edward Asner (Lou Grant), who
did not grow up celebrating
Christmas.
"That was what the 'Other people'
did," the 74-year-old-actor said in
Elf is currently playing in area
an interview. For Asner, who was
theaters.
one of few Jews in his Kansas City

CHRISTMAS FILM

from page 68

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