At the same time, the movie also features a charming, low-key turn from Zooey Deschanel, who was then mostly known for her small role in Almost Famous and parts in indies like All the Real Girls and The Good Girl. (It's odd, or maybe just fate, that she'd go onto star in a FOX sitcom called The New Girl.) But Elf was also the first time most people realized she could sing as well. Years before she would form the band She & Him with singer-songwriter M. Ward, Deschanel showed off her smoky vocals by singing "Baby It's Cold Outside" in the shower. She ended up recording another version of it on A Very She & Him Christmas in 2011. (The band followed it up with another Christmas album in 2016 -- they clearly love Christmas!)
But in addition to Ferrell, Favreau, and Deschanel, the movie also featured a handful of older actors who give the film a connection to the past. In addition to James Caan as Buddy's grumpy biological father, the movie also features a droll Bob Newhart as the Papa Elf who raised Buddy and a twinkly-eyed Ed Asner as Santa himself. Also keep an eye out for scenes with Andy Richter, Matt Walsh, Amy Sedaris, and a pre-Game of Thrones Peter Dinklage. Dinklage's delivery of "Hey, jackweed, I get more action in a week than you've had in your entire life" makes this one worthy of a re-watch all by itself.
In a way, the movie's blend of TV and movie stars from the past and the future gives it a frozen in time quality. And, unlike The Santa Clause, which also helped turn a TV comedian into a box office force, the movie hasn't been diminished by a series of lackluster sequels. Instead, Elf remains a joyful snow globe of a film, capturing that moment right before Will Ferrell ran completely free, played the jazz flute for Veronica Corningstone, and refashioned the mainstream Hollywood comedy in his own giddy, candy-loving image.