Directed by Jon Favreau, starring Will Ferrell, James Caan, Zooey Deschanel, Mary Steenburgen, Daniel Tay, Edward Asner and Bob Newhart.

As energetic and heartwarming Christmas movies go, 'Elf' offers a little more than the usual sentimental reflection on the festive season. Merriment aside, there is more sparkle to this film than the dazzle of fairy lights. 'Elf' offers the kind of light-hearted escape that will prove entertaining to young and old alike, managing to steer clear of patience-challenging predecessors like 'Home Alone'.

Buddy the Elf (Ferrell) has never quite fitted in at the North Pole, towering above the other elves, always lagging behind in the toy production stakes and clumsily falling over in his ill-fitting elf shoes. But things begin to make more sense when he discovers that he is really a human who has been accidentally transported to Santa's workshop. One Christmas, a baby called Buddy crawled into Santa's toy-sack while he was delivering gifts to an orphanage. Back at the North Pole kind old Papa Elf (Newhart) decided to raise Buddy as his own child, unaware of the fun that lay ahead when he outgrew the miniature world of the elves' homeland.

Upon discovering his secret life as a human, Buddy decides to go in search of his real family, setting off for New York with an old photograph of his father. Much to his dismay the people of New York are severely lacking in Christmas spirit and his father Walter (Caan), a wealthy publisher, is a modern-day Scrooge, devoid of any enthusiasm for the holiday season and of any sense of family values. But Buddy is determined to turn all this around and add a sense of goodwill to his new home.

Disowned by his father, he takes up a job in a toystore spreading his Christmas cheer with hilarious consequences. Endearing himself to his new stepmother Emily (Steenburgen) and half-brother Michael (Tay), Buddy has his work cut out trying to win the affections of his father. His attempts to prove himself and learn about life produce some hilarious scenes, as Buddy struggles to get to grips with real-world rules, earnestly cooking a spaghetti breakfast for his new family. Romance is added to the mix when Buddy falls in love with fellow toy-store elf Jovie (Deschanel), but has to enlist the help of ten year old Michael to decipher the complex rules of the dating game.

Spirits in New York remain low despite Buddy's best efforts. In one last attempt to save Christmas, Buddy comes to the aid of Santa (Asner) proving himself a true elf, although trapped in a human body.

'Elf' is a magical production, with all the ingredients needed to get you in the mood for Christmas. Wonderfully cast, it boasts superb performances from Will Ferrell and Bob Newhart in particular, with Zooey Deschanel proving her worth as one of the Hollywood's most sought-after up and coming stars.

Visually eye-catching and filled with giggles, 'Elf' will help you rekindle the real spirit of Christmas.

Linda McGee