Elf directed by Jon Favreau and written by David Berenbaum, begins with a tragic misunderstanding on a Christmas long ago. As Santa Claus (Ed Asner) is making his rounds, a human orphan crawls into his sack and accidentally hitches a ride to the North Pole. Raised as an elf by Bob Newhart, he knows he’s at least four feet taller than most of the other elves, and eventually he decides to go to New York City and seek out his birth father. And thusly did we let Buddy the Elf, Will Ferrell as a human more inflated with Christmas spirit than anyone else ever, into our hearts as a new avatar of the Yuletide. It’s the rare Christmas movie that’s smart, funny and full of heart, and Elf delivers on all three.