Miracle on 34th Street ended its wintry reign as the preeminent Christmas movie in 2003 when Elf hit theaters. Although nothing is more early-2000s than Will Ferrell playing an idiot, Elf is still as entertaining as the day it came out. Why? It knows when it should go outside of the holiday movie formula and when it should stay within it. The film is presented like conventional Ferrell fare, a quasi-parody of Christmas films - Buddy (Ferrell) mistakes a mall Santa for the real Kriss Kringle, he is inhumanly skilled at snowball fights, and he gets beat up by a little person after calling him an “elf”- but Elf’s structure is thoroughly a Christmas film; it contains the classic Scrooge character arc. Buddy’s father (James Caan) begins the film as a crotchety businessman, but he transforms, expressing his “Christmas spirit” and singing with his family at the end of the film. Elf’s deft mix of holiday movie subversion and traditional Christmas structure makes it entertaining and timeless.