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Will Ferrell is a joy in this exceptionally tasty treat for Christmas.

In a sweet-natured comedy that’s full of laugh-out-loud gags, the 6ft 3in Will Ferrell stars as Santa’s not-so-little helper, a human brought up by North Pole elves.

The plot has him heading south for a New York reunion with his shocked dad, a crusty kiddies’ book publisher (James Caan).

An expert at this kind of high-energy farce, Ferrell effortlessly carries the movie, bringing lots of charm and gusto, though there’s a little room left over for cute turns by Bob Newhart as Papa Elf, Ed Asner as Santa and Zooey Deschanel as Elf’s new sweetheart.