Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? For a lot of people, that movie is Elf? Every once in a while a movie comes along that becomes a pop culture sensation. I don’t know about you, but at our house, Elf gets watched way more than once during the Christmas season and we all can recite multiple lines from the movie.
Will Ferrell does a great job as the star of Elf and I can’t think of a better person to play the part. You know originally, Jim Carrey was offered the role of Buddy but the movie took almost 10 years to get off the ground and in that time Jim Carrey moved on and starred in a different Christmas movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
Elf is directed by Jon Favreau, known more recently for directing such hits as Iron Man, Iron Man 2, the 2019 Lion King and the 2016 The Jungle Book. In addition to directing Elf, Favreau even has a minor role where he plays Dr. Ben Leonardo, the Hobbs’s family pediatrician that gives Buddy the DNA test. Also, Favreau is the voice of the Narwhal that says the line “Bye Buddy. Hope you find your dad.” That’s pretty cool that in addition to directing, he got to have a little role in the movie as well.
Here’s how this episode will work. In the first segment, I’ll ask you ten trivia questions about the movie Elf, then I’ll go back and review the questions and give you the answers plus some fun facts about the movie. Find out what trick director Jon Favreau used to get a genuine scared reaction out of Will Ferrell when he was testing the jack-in-the-box toys. Find out how long it took sculptors to build that New York City skyline out of Legos. I will tell you about a technique Jon Favreau’s team used called Forced Perspective to make Buddy appear bigger than the other elves. Plus, find out why actor James Caan says there won’t be an Elf sequel. Those are just a few of the fun facts in this episode.
Then, I’ll move on to our movie quotes segment where I’ll give you five quotes from random Christmas movies and you have to guess which movie the quotes came from. You’ll find out about some pretty amazing set designs. I mention one movie and its trailer that tricked everyone into not knowing it was a Christmas movie. After you listen to the episode, watch the movie’s trailer here. Find out what iconic Christmas movie was filmed in the middle of a July California heat wave and how over the years snow has been made on movie sets. Those and more fun facts await you.
Below, you will find the transcript for this episode. You can listen to Trivia Rewind on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. Please tell a friend, leave a positive review and 5 star rating if you like Trivia Rewind. Thank you for listening and supporting Trivia Rewind! The background Christmas Music heard on the episode is by JuliusH from Pixabay
Here is the transcript. Spoiler alert! Unless you’ve already listened to the episode, don’t look below because you’ll find the answers.
Debi Jenkins 0:05
Welcome to another episode of Trivia Rewind. I’m Debi Jenkins your host. Are you a fan of the movie Elf? In this episode of Trivia Rewind, that’s what I’ll be talking about. Every once in a while a movie comes along that becomes a pop culture sensation. I don’t know about you, but at our house, Elf gets watched way more than once during the Christmas season. I’m sure most people listening to this can recite at least one or more lines from the movie. Will Ferrell is the star of Elf and I can’t think of a better person to play the part. You know, originally, Jim Carrey was offered the role of Buddy, but the movie took almost 10 years to get off the ground and in that time, Jim Carrey moved on and starred in a different Christmas movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Elf is directed by Jon Favreau known more recently for directing such hits as Iron Man, Iron Man 2, the 2019 Lion King and the 2016 The Jungle Book. In addition to directing Elf, Favreau even has a minor role where he plays Dr. Ben Leonardo the Hobbs’s family pediatrician that gives Buddy the DNA test. Also Favreau is the voice of the narwhal that says the line “Bye Buddy, hope you find your dad.”
Debi Jenkins 1:24
Well, before we get to the trivia questions I’ll review how this works. This episode contains two segments. In the first segment, I’ll ask you 10 questions about the movie Elf? Then I’ll go back and review the questions and give you the answers plus some fun facts about the movie. After our Elf trivia segment, I’ll move on to our movie quotes segment where I’ll give you five quotes from random Christmas movies and you have to guess which movie the quotes come from. Are you ready? Let’s play Trivia Rewind.
Debi Jenkins 1:59
Question one. When elves discover a human baby in their workshop, how do they come up with the name Buddy?
Debi Jenkins 2:09
Question two. What is Buddy’s job at the North Pole?
Debi Jenkins 2:16
Question three. Buddy is horrified when Santa tells him what fact about his birth father?
Debi Jenkins 2:25
Question four. What is the name of the department store where Buddy gets a job?
Debi Jenkins 2:34
Question five. What is the name of the character played by actress Zooey Deschanel?
Debi Jenkins 2:42
Question six. What is the name of the author that Buddy gets into a fight with at his father’s office?
Debi Jenkins 2:51
Question seven. Buddy tells the department store Santa that he smells like what?
Debi Jenkins 3:00
Question eight. What is one of the three items that is recited in the Code of Elves?
Debi Jenkins 3:10
Question nine. What does Buddy say are the elves four main food groups?
Debi Jenkins 3:19
And question 10. Where do the reindeer get their magic to make Santa’s sleigh fly?
Debi Jenkins 3:28
Those were our questions. Let’s go back, get the answers and fun facts. Question one. When elves discover a human baby in their workshop, how do they come up with the name Buddy? Well, the elves look at the label on the baby’s diaper and see that it says Little Buddy Diapers. That’s the moment they start calling him Buddy. Well do the elves’ costumes look familiar to you? If you’re a fan of the classic Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer special, you may recognize the costumes. The ones in the movie Elf are replicas of those very costumes from the television special. By the way, if you didn’t catch our last episode, you definitely need to go listen. It was all about those classic Christmas television specials like Rudolph. When director Jon Favreau first got the script for Elf he said it was much darker and had more of a PG-13 vibe. After taking a year to do rewrites, the film came more in line with what he wanted, an innocent Buddy the elf in a world that felt like the old Rankin-Bass television specials.
Debi Jenkins 4:39
Question two. What is Buddy’s job at the North Pole? Well, since he couldn’t keep up with the other elves making toys, Buddy is given the job of toy tester. While he’s never played an elf before, in real life actor Will Ferrell was once Santa for five weeks. In an article from Spliced Wire, he says that actor Chris Kattan was his elf at an outdoor mall in Pasadena, California, where together they passed out candy canes. Remember the scene in Elf when Buddy has to test all those jack-in-the-box toys? Do you remember his surprised reaction to the last jack-in-the-box? Jon Favreau had a remote control for that one and he wanted to get a genuine scared reaction out of Ferrell when he was least expecting it. It definitely worked. In the movie, the head elf is named Ming Ming. He was played by the star of a very popular Christmas movie. Actor Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story had a cameo role in Elf playing the Ming Ming character.
Debi Jenkins 5:51
Question three. Buddy is horrified when Santa tells him what fact about his birth father? Well, Santa tells Buddy that his father is on the naughty list. Actor Ed Asner played Santa Claus. Asner is a charter member of the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. He has played Santa in several movies. An IGN Film Force article says that Santa’s wardrobe was modeled after the 1950s Santa in Coke advertisements. Actor James Caan plays the role of Buddy’s birth father, Walter Hobbs. James Caan is definitely known for his Oscar nominated role in the movie The Godfather. His character in Elf was the exact opposite of Buddy’s character. From what I’ve read, Will Ferrell had fun messing with James Caan on the set. In a Spliced Wire article, Ferrell is quoted as saying, “My objective in this movie was trying to drive James Caan crazy, both on a story level, and in just constantly messing with him. It was great.”
Debi Jenkins 7:01
Question four. What is the name of the department store where Buddy gets a job? The department store was Gimbels. Instead of Gimbels the store featured in the movie was almost going to be Macy’s. The filmmakers were in talks with Macy’s about the possibility of filming there. Macy’s was going to allow them to use the store to shoot parts of the movie. However, one of the stipulations was that Santa couldn’t be revealed as fake. I can’t imagine any department store ever wanting to insinuate that their Santa might be a fake. So I can see why Macy’s had this stipulation. Faveau and his team decided to go with Gimbels, a store that was once a competitor of Macy’s. Both Macy’s and Gimbels were the topic of another Christmas movie, the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street. The filmmakers got permission to use the Gimbels name, and they filmed the department store scenes inside the cafeteria of a mental hospital in Vancouver, Canada. Did you know that the Gimbels department store was the first department store to have a Thanksgiving Day Parade? It wasn’t Macy’s.
Debi Jenkins 8:15
Question five. What is the name of the character played by actress Zooey Deschanel? She plays Jovie, an elf in Santa Land at Gimbels. When they started filming the movie, the director didn’t know that Zooey Deschanel could sing. When Favreau found out she could sing he wrote that into the script. In addition to her acting roles, Zooey Deschanel has a musical career. She is one half of the musical group called She and Him. Currently, Zooey is dating one of the Property Brothers, Jonathan Scott.
Debi Jenkins 8:51
Question six. What is the name of the author that Buddy gets into a fight with at his father’s office. That author’s name is Miles Finch, played by actor Peter Dinklage. Many fans now recognize Peter Dinklage, not from his Elf role, but for his role as Tyrion Lannister on the HBO hit series Game of Thrones. Peter Dinklage was born with Achondroplasia, a genetic disorder whose primary feature is dwarfism. Because of this condition, he has often turned down roles that he felt were demeaning, such as playing magical characters like elves and leprechauns. His roll in Elf definitely doesn’t fall into that category.
Debi Jenkins 9:36
Question seven. Buddy tells the department store Santa that he smells like what? He smells like beef and cheese. Buddy and Santa had a pretty amazing fight. They only had one chance to film this scene. There were no second chances because they would have to rebuild that entire elaborate set that Buddy and Santa destroy in the fight. Imagine having to rebuild that New York City skyline made out of Legos. Elf production designer Rusty Smith discusses the Lego situation in an Entertainment Weekly article. H e says, “We had Legos and Favreau said, ‘How about a whole city made of Legos and then they destroy it?’ I was like, Yes, that is so brilliant. But then I turned and looked at my art director, and he was ashen.” I can imagine. It took five sculptors two weeks to build that skyline from scratch. They had to scramble to find enough of the types of colors and different types of Legos needed to build their masterpiece. After all that hard work, it took Santa a few seconds to destroy it. In the article, Rusty Smith discusses more about the transformation that Buddy made inside the Santa Land. He said “It had to feel handmade. It had to feel like Buddy actually did it.” Remember all those snowflakes that Buddy cut out of paper? Smith said it took weeks and weeks for the art department to create those.
Debi Jenkins 11:08
Question eight. What is one of the three items that is recited in the Code of Elves? Here they are, they are treat every day like Christmas. There’s room for everyone on the nice list. And the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. I’m sure you remember the scene when all the elves were seated in the classroom reciting the Code of Elves. To make the other elves look so much smaller than Buddy a technique called forced perspective was used. Director Jon Favreau was inspired by the 1959 film, Darby O’Gill and the Little People. This forced perspective technique was used in a lot of the scenes when you see Buddy with the elves. Check out triviarewind.com, where I’ll post a link to some behind the scenes photos that show exactly how they did this.
Debi Jenkins 12:03
Question nine. What does Buddy say are the elves four main food groups? Well, they are candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. When making the movie, Will Ferrell actually had physical effects from eating so many sweets. It’s been said that he suffered from headaches due to all that sugar. Remember the scene where Buddy puts candy and all kinds of other sweets on top of his spaghetti? Supposedly they had to shoot that scene twice because he threw up the first time. I can see why. And speaking of candy, in the scene where Buddy is at the doctor’s office eating cotton balls, well, what he’s eating is actually cotton candy that had not yet been dyed.
Debi Jenkins 12:50
And question 10. Where do the reindeer get their magic to make Santa’s sleigh fly? Well, that magic comes from Christmas spirit. Remember the end of the movie when Buddy is in Santa’s sleigh and everyone is at Central Park and start singing Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and it’s showing Christmas spirit, the one thing needed to get Santa’s sleigh in the air? This scene brought tears to Will Ferrell while watching the movie at the L.A. premiere. In a Rotten Tomatoes interview he says, “I’m like, oh, I can’t let everyone see me cry here at my own movie. I was like, oh gosh, this is working on a level that I didn’t anticipate. And that was pretty cool.” People can’t get enough of this movie, and many people, including myself would love to see a sequel. Unfortunately, Will Ferrell turned down $29 million to star in a sequel. In an interview with The Independent James Caan says the reason there won’t be a sequel is that Will Ferrell and director Jon Favreau didn’t get along during the filming. This is something I haven’t heard before. Neither Favreau or Ferrell have publicly stated whether it’s true. Whatever the reason, we will still watch Elf year after year. In 2017 Fandango fans named Elf the number one Christmas movie of the 21st century.
Debi Jenkins 14:11
And now for our Christmas movie quotes segment. Before we start, I’d like to take a quick break and ask a favor. If you are enjoying this episode, please subscribe to Trivia Rewind and leave a five star review. If you’re listening on Apple podcasts or another podcast app that allows comments, I’d love it if you would leave a positive comment about Trivia Rewind. Thank you for listening and spreading the word about this podcast. Now back to our Christmas quote segment. I’ll give you five quotes the answers and fun facts.
Debi Jenkins 14:45
Here’s quote one. “Nobody’s walking out on this fun old fashioned family Christmas.”
Debi Jenkins 14:52
Quote two. “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”
Debi Jenkins 15:01
Quote three. “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
Debi Jenkins 15:07
Quote four. “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around, he leaves an awful hole doesn’t he?”
Debi Jenkins 15:18
And quote five. “You’re skipping Christmas. Isn’t that against the law?”
Debi Jenkins 15:24
Those were our quotes. Let’s go back get the answers and fun facts. Quote one. “Nobody’s walking out on this fun old fashioned family Christmas.” This quote is said by the character Clark Griswold in the movie National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Actor Chevy Chase plays the role of Clark. Chevy Chase’s real name is actually Cornelius Crane Chase. His grandmother is the one that gave him the nickname Chevy after the medieval English ballad titled The Ballad of Chevy Chase. Chevy Chase was one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. He had his own satire news segment called Weekend Update, and it’s where he is known for saying the much remembered phrase “I’m Chevy Chase, and you’re not.” He won three Primetime Emmy Awards for his work with Saturday Night Live. When it came to the Christmas Vacation movie, supposedly Chevy Chase wasn’t that easy to work with according to the originally slated director, Chris Columbus. In a Chicago article, he is quoted as saying, “To be completely honest, Chevy treated me like dirt.” So Columbus left the movie and several weeks later, Jon Hughes gave him a different Christmas movie to direct, Home Alone.
Debi Jenkins 16:48
Quote two. “Seeing is believing but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” This quote is from the 2004 film The Polar Express. This quote is said by the conductor, voiced by Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks had seven voice roles in this movie. He was the voice of Hero Boy, Hero Boy’s father, Conductor, Hobo, Scrooge puppet, Santa Claus and the narrator. The movie is quite the production. It combines stage acting, motion capture and computer graphics to bring the characters to life. Robert Zemeckis helped write the screenplay and he directed the film. In a Wired article Zemeckis said that he didn’t want the movie to look like animated cartoons. Well, it went way beyond that. Tom Hanks had to wear a bodysuit that had reflective dots on it. Sixty-five infrared cameras recorded his movements in 3D. For close-ups, Tom Hanks had to have 152 marks glued to his face in order to capture every expression he made. The wired article said that it took over fifty minutes to glue these to his face. After they recorded, all the data then went to a computer where the next steps in the process took place. This is all just part of what gives the film its unique look.
Debi Jenkins 18:25
Quote three. “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.” This line was said by character Doris Walker, played by actress Maureen O’Hara in the 1947 movie Miracle on 34th Street. Maureen O’Hara was one of a few actresses often referred to as the Queen of Technicolor. On Miracle on 34th Street she plays the mother to a little girl named Susan, played by actress Natalie Wood. In Maureen O’Hara’s career she played the role of mother to almost 40 children. Here’s something interesting about the filming of Miracle on 34th Street. The actual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was going on and they shot the movie’s parade sequences live when the real event was happening. And here’s the craziest fact of all. We would all assume this movie was released around Christmas time. I mean, it was a Christmas movie. Nope. It was released on May 2, 1947. The head of 20th Century Fox thought more people went to the movies in the summer when it was warm outside. But do people want to watch Christmas movies in the summer? Well, when they marketed the movie, there was no mention that it was about Christmas. The movie’s trailer made sure of it. I’ll post a link to the trailer on triviarewind.com and you can see how they promoted this Christmas movie in a non-Christmassy way.
Debi Jenkins 19:59
Question four. “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole doesn’t he?” Clarence the angel says this line in the 1946 movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. One of the largest sets ever built in Hollywood history was for this movie. The Bedford Falls Main Street took three city blocks, and included 75 stores and buildings, all of which had to be built for the movie. They even transplanted 20 full grown oak trees. You’d never guess that this cold looking snowy Christmas movie was actually filmed in the middle of a July California heatwave. Russell Shearman the movie special effects artist came up with a new way of making snow for movie sets. He used what’s called foamite and mixed it with soap and water, and some people say sugar also. Then they put the mixture in front of really big fans, which made it look like falling snow. Shearman and the RKO Radio Studio special effects department won a Technical Achievement Award at the 19th Academy Awards for the development of a new method of simulating falling snow on Motion Picture sets. I’ll post a link to a video on triviarewind.com that talks about the making of snow on movie sets over the years. Amazingly, as great as we think this film is today, when the movie was first released, it didn’t even earn enough at the box office to pay what it cost to make it. The movie grew in popularity beginning in the 1970s when the copyright expired and it was available for TV stations to air royalty free. Those reruns over the years have made it a Christmas classic.
Debi Jenkins 21:58
And quote five. “You’re skipping Christmas? Isn’t that against the law? This quote comes from the character Spike in the 2004 movie Christmas with the Kranks. The movie was based on a John Grisham book titled Skipping Christmas and stars Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis. A lot of the movie takes place in the Kranks’ neighborhood. The production team couldn’t find just the right neighborhood so they built their own. Building their own neighborhood would save them from having to ask real people in a real neighborhood to leave their home for an extended period of time. This gave them more control over the production. In a How Stuff Works article, Garreth Stover, production designer and Karen O’Hara, set decorator provide specific details about what it took to pull this off. A parking lot in Downey, California was the blank slate. Here’s just a few of the crazy facts. They spent 504 hours designing the set. Twelve weeks building the set. They built 17 houses that were each 2400 square feet. They planted over 500 trees. They laid over 60,000 square feet of sod. I could go on and on. I mean this was a big production. Stover said, “Even though it lacks structural foundation, it was built to code.” While all this seems extravagant for one movie, the neighborhood on Hemlock Street is available for other movies and television shows to use. And remember the scene where they had the canned ham and it gets run over? Well they use 26 cans of ham to film this one scene.
Debi Jenkins 23:46
Well that’s it for this week’s episode of Trivia Rewind. Please subscribe and leave a positive review wherever you listen to podcasts. Visit us on Twitter and Instagram. All the links talked about in this episode can be found at triviarewind.com Thanks for listening. And I’ll be back next time for more Trivia Rewind.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai