Ruth Scouller’s review published on Letterboxd:
I remember when this came out I had absolutely no interest in seeing it, and I can certainly see why. I wanted to give this 2 stars. The North Pole opening was just nauseating and repellent to me (despite that cute goodbye with elf dad), and it wasn't significantly improving. It just felt like it was drenched in valium, a case of community service director-for-hire. Maybe I'm too old for these films? After all, I haven't seen many of these silly season films in recent times, films which generally get off lightly.
However, from the snowball scene on, there is a modicum of pleasant entertainment and heartwarming material, as well as an uproarious scene with Peter Dinklage. Despite this film being utterly disposable and not my thing, Favreau nevertheless has a grasp on how to craft solid, well balanced family entertainments which know exactly where they are going and how to pace themselves there. It manages to hit all the right notes with feeling, if not much else. Moments of sweetness and overall harmless time-passing entertainment creep up on you and are enough for me to give Elf the barest pass mark. Ironically, Elf gets off lightly.