It's easy to forget that at the beginning of 2003 Will Ferrell wasn't a household name. Enter Elf, the most enduring entry in the Christmas movie canon of the last 20 years. It's now become a holiday staple, something you simply must fire up on Amazon or catch on cable during one of its many airings. If you're looking to catch it this year, Elf airs on Freeform at the following EST times: December 22 at 11:50pm, December 23 at 12:50pm, December 24 at 9:15pm, or December 25 at 6:45pm. But when the movie was first released, it was no one's idea of a surefire hit.
At the time, the curly-haired Ferrell was beloved by Saturday Night Live fans for his keenly aloof portrayal of President George W. Bush and his brazenly absurd impressions of celebrities like Harry Caray, Robert Goulet, and Neil Diamond, but he wasn't a movie star yet. In February of 2003, Ferrell co-starred in the frat-comedy Old School, which grossed over $80 million and introduced Ferrell's man-baby antics, gift for improv, and doughy bare ass to unsuspecting audiences. But he was still coming off the bench, stealing scenes as the beer-chugging Frank "The Tank" Ricard from actors like Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn. He hadn't carried a movie on his own yet.