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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'Elf-Man'

Dennis King Published: December 3, 2012

This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“Elf-Man”

Elves have been a staple of holiday mythology for eons, so it’s no surprise that in our super-hero obsessed age some enterprising filmmakers have attempted to turn one of those green-garbed, pointy-hatted little sprites into a crime fighter in “Elf-Man” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

A light-hearted and lightweight holiday fantasy, this goofy but harmless trifle features two very unlikely actors in key roles. Playing the rookie elf of the title is Jason “Wee Man” Acuna, one of the riotous “Jackass” knuckleheads, and stepping into the villain’s shoes is horror veteran Jeffrey Combs (“Re-Animator”).

And behind the camera is director Ethan Wiley, whose entire resume is stocked with creepy, low-level horror titles ranging from “House II: The Second Story” to “Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror.”

So when these guys try to go all wholesome and family friendly, the result is a blandly clever hook that turns into a tedious sugar fest.

The tale features Wee-Man as a neophyte elf pulling his first Christmas Eve duty on Santa’s sleigh as the reindeer pooper-scooper. When Santa hears the cries of a sad little girl whose inventor father (Mackenzie Astin of “The Facts of Life”) has been kidnapped by Combs’ band of invention-stealing thugs, the old man leaves behind his neophyte elf to save the day.

What follows is a sort of “Home Alone”-like battle of wits between bumbling crooks and a timid little guy who finds heroic reserves of bravery and resourcefulness when the chips are down. It’s all very gooey and supposedly inspirational, but it becomes so progressively silly and insipid (what with its monstrous, marauding fruitcakes and all) that it’s likely to lull younger viewers to sleep and send their parents off to the kitchen to spike their eggnog.

“Elf-Man” is not rated and runs 87 minutes. It’s being released by Anchor Bay.

- Dennis King