In the surprise 2003 Christmas hit Elf, Will Ferrell embraces the cutesy confection of its plot. Santa Claus doles out presents at an orphanage; a wee human crawls into his sack of toys, winds up at the North Pole, and is subsequently raised as an elf. Eight zillion sight gags constitute the first act, in which a giant-sized Ferrell bangs his head into low ceilings, squats on miniature crappers, and botches even the most remedial toy-making duties. Ferrell finally discovers he’s the bastard son of James Caan, now a distant, terse Manhattan publishing-house exec. Innocent, syrup-swilling Ferrell then goes to big, bad NYC, meets Zooey Deschanel, and hilarity often ensues. So frantic, off-the-cuff, and self-aware in his ad-libs, Ferrell owns the movie the way Santa owns Christmas. Directed by Jon Favreau. (G) ANDREW BONAZELLI

Dec. 17-20, 6:30 & 9:30 p.m.; Dec. 21-22, 9:30 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 23, 8 p.m., 2010