It stars Will Ferrell, James Caan, Bob Newhart, Zooey Deschanel, and Ed Asner with Leon Redbone. Ferrell plays a human named Buddy who is raised by elves in the North Pole. He lives the way the elves do and helps in Santa's workshop. He travels to New York City to find his father. He is used to how elves live, which is very different from how humans live, with New York being a perfectly opposite way of living compared to the North Pole.
The movie was released to positive reviews on November 7, 2003 by Warner Bros. The film inspired the 2010 Broadway musical Elf: The Musical and NBC's 2014 stop-motion animated television special Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas.