Buddy (Will Ferrell) was accidentally transported to the North Pole as a toddler and raised to adulthood among Santa's elves. Unable to shake the feeling that he doesn't fit in, the adult Buddy travels to New York, in full elf uniform, in search of his real father.BOOK TICKETS
On Christmas Eve in 1973, an infant boy stows away in Santa Claus' sack. When discovered back at the North Pole, he is adopted by Papa Elf. They name him Buddy because he is wearing "Little Buddy Diapers".
Buddy grows up at the North Pole believing he is an elf, but due to his human size he is unable to perform elf tasks. When Buddy accidentally learns that he is human, Papa Elf explains that he was born to Walter Hobbs and Susan Wells, and was given up for adoption without Walter knowing. Susan died and Walter works at a children's book publisher in New York City at the Empire State Building. Santa notes that Walter is on the naughty list due to his greed and selfishness, but suggests Buddy could help redeem him, and so Buddy travels alone to New York.
Buddy has trouble acclimating to the customs of the human world. Buddy finds his father's office, but Walter has him ejected after Buddy mentions Susan Wells. After following a security guard's sarcastic suggestion to go "back to Gimbels" due to his elf outfit, the Gimbels' manager mistakes him for an employee at Santa Land. He meets Jovie, an unenthusiastic employee to whom he is attracted. Knowing that Santa will arrive the next day, Buddy stays behind and spends the night decorating Santa Land, and buys a nightie for Walter.
The next day, Buddy is appalled that the store's Santa is not real and rips off the man's fake beard, causing them to fight, with the manager having to subdue the fake Santa. Walter bails Buddy out of prison and takes him to Dr. Leonardo for a DNA test, which confirms that Buddy is Walter's son. The doctor convinces him to take Buddy home to meet his step mother Emily and twelve year old half brother Michael. Walter and Michael are annoyed by Buddy's childlike behavior, but Emily insists that they take care of him until he "recovers".
Buddy wins Michael over by helping him defeat a gang of bullies in a snowball fight and Michael encourages Buddy to ask Jovie out on a date. Walter learns from his boss Fulton Greenway that his company is in financial trouble after publishing a failed children's book, and organizes a book pitch for Christmas Eve, for which Walter and his associates Eugene and Morris arrange a meeting with best selling children's author Miles Finch to hire him.
One night, Buddy goes on a date with Jovie and wins her over. On Christmas Eve, Buddy bursts into Walter's office during a meeting with Finch to tell Walter about being in love, and mistakes Finch, who has dwarfism for an elf. Finch loses his temper and attacks Buddy before storming out, causing Walter to harshly disown Buddy.
Eugene and Morris find a notebook Finch left that is filled with ideas for children's books. Walter pitches these ideas to Greenway, but Michael bursts in to tell Walter that Buddy ran away. Greenway refuses to reschedule; Walter quits his job and leaves to find Buddy.
Santa's sleigh crashes in Central Park, attracting a large crowd. Buddy finds him and discovers that the sleigh's engine has broken off, meaning that it cannot fly without Christmas spirit. Walter and Michael find Buddy, and Walter apologizes to Buddy for disowning him and accepts Buddy as his son; Buddy then takes them to meet Santa. Michael takes Santa's list and reads it in front of the gathered television news cameras to prove he exists. The Central Park Rangers, who never forgave Santa for putting them on the naughty list for an unidentified wrongdoing, chase his sleigh as Buddy tries to reattach the engine.
Jovie leads the gathered people in singing "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town", helping raise enough Christmas spirit to partially power the sleigh. Walter is convinced by Michael to start singing, which restores enough Christmas spirit to allow it to fly.
By next Christmas, Walter has started his own publishing company with the first best-selling book titled Elf, an account of Buddy's adventures. Buddy and Jovie got married and have a daughter named Susie, named after his biological mother. During the film's closure, they visit Papa Elf at the North Pole.
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