Christmas Classic ‘Elf’ Almost Featured Domestic Abuse

in Entertainment, Movies

Buddy the Elf smiling on a blue, snowy background of New York City

Credit: New Line Cinema

Elf (2003) is one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time, quickly becoming a favorite for all who watched it. However, it almost featured content that would have easily ruined the Christmas spirit.

Buddy sitting with all the children at school
Credit: New Line Cinema

Directed by Jon Favreau and written by David Berenbaum, Elf was a surprise holiday success. It follows the story of Buddy the Elf, who learns that he is actually a human. After being sent off by his father and Santa Claus, Buddy travels to New York City, where he meets his father, falls in love, and saves Christmas.

The film stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, James Caan as Walter (Buddy’s father), Zooey Deschanel as Jovie, Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Ed Asner as Santa Claus, Mary Steenburgen as Emily, Peter Dinklage as Miles Finch, Jon Favreau as Dr. Leonardo, and Daniel Tay as Michael.

Buddy sitting on Papa Elf's lap while Jovie smiles and looks on
Credit: New Line Cinema

Related: ‘Elf’ Reboot Announces Cast Ahead of Theatrical Release

The film became a box office smash, grossing over $225 million, and inspired numerous spinoffs, including a Broadway musical and a stop-motion animated special, Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas (2014). And that’s without mentioning all the merchandise that floods store shelves during the holiday season.

Now celebrating its 20th anniversary, Elf is synonymous with Christmas for families everywhere. However, it almost wasn’t the family-friendly production we all know in love. In fact, one director pitched a version that would make the film “edgier” and much, much darker.

‘Elf’ Almost Rated PG-13, Introduced Domestic Abuse

Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell) meeting his father for the first time in 'Elf'
Credit: New Line Cinema

Although it’s iconic now, the original version of Elf was much raunchier, with a PG-13 script penned by Judd Apatow that was more in line with the film Bad Santa (2003) than the holiday story we know and love. That being said, producer Todd Komarnicki revealed that it could have been even worse based on a rejected pitch from an unnamed director.

“[The director] was like, ‘The movie’s not edgy enough — nobody’s gonna come to this movie,'” recalled Komarnicki. “‘I imagine a lot of the movie taking place in her apartment on the Lower East Side. I see one of those dented doors with the big metal thing, but it’s not safe for her because Jovie’s boyfriend beats her.'”

Zooey Deschanel and Will Ferrell dressed as elves working in a Christmas boutique
Credit: New Line Cinema

Related: Disney Cuts Iconic Christmas Movies From Disney+, Updates Given

That’s right, this director’s idea to make the movie “edgier” was to include a physically abusive boyfriend for Jovie, Zooey Deschanel’s character and Buddy’s love interest. Because nothing says “Merry Christmas” quite like domestic abuse. Fortunately, the producers passed on this director. “I think that director is currently in prison,” Komarnicki joked.

Now, having gone in the complete opposite direction, Elf is arguably the most beloved Christmas film of the 21st century, mainly because of its perfect combination of goofy fun and Christmas cheer. Here’s to another twenty years with Buddy the Elf.

What’s your favorite holiday movie? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

in Entertainment, Movies

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