Wild Target

Victor Maynard of Wild Target was born to be a hit man; taught the family trade by his father and his career nurtured by his formidable mother Louisa. Louisa lived with him in the large ancestral home until recently, when (though there was an old-fashioned lift installed in the house for her wheelchair) she moved to an assisted living facility in London. Victor visits her regularly, where she is apparently still ruling the roost, dressing elegantly, serving tea, and keeping close tabs on her son’s career and (lack of) love life.

Victor isn’t terribly put off by his mother’s badgering as the years invested in such a solitary profession are beginning to take their toll. He falls for a woman he’s been hired to kill, an art thief much younger and prettier than he. When he finds himself unable to kill her, he takes on the job of her protector instead and brings her to the family estate in the countryside.

Mother advises him to apologize to his employer and finish the job for free lest he become a target himself, but when she gets wind of Rose’s whereabouts she becomes concerned that Victor is losing focus. Louisa takes a wheelchair-accessible taxi from her assisted-living facility to the country house, where she (no doubt using the lift) ambushes Rose with a large knife in the middle of the night in her bedroom. When Victor tries to intervene, his mother blows a hole through the door.

Professional killer mom Louisa gets packed off back to her assisted living facility after the wheelchair accessible London cab fleet enables her to attempt a hit on her son's love interest. I don't know about you, but I feel empowered.

Victor is mortified, but Rose forgives him, saying she has a cousin “mad as a balloon… but family is family, right?” Here marks the beginning of Victor’s loosening up; he has a good time at his birthday party, rips the plastic coverings off the furniture, and sleeps with Rose in short order.

Victor still must admit his past to Rose and face the hired guns that took her hostage, but when it comes time for a showdown in the family barn, it’s Louisa who appears on a loft in her electric wheelchair to save the day. (How the heck she got herself up there shall forever remain a mystery.) She kills one of the baddies with a machine gun and gives her son the upper hand, and the hit man and the thief live happily ever after. (Except for the cat.)


It’s not uncommon for little people to play elves in Christmas movies, but Elf bucks tradition a bit by casting people of average stature as the elves (through the cinematic technique of forced perspective), and a single little person (Peter Dinklage) as a highly paid children’s book author with an attitude.

Disability themes are hinted at; throughout the movie, especially during the beginning scenes at the North Pole, Buddy the Elf notices he’s different from the other elves. He can’t make toys as fast as they can, and though his elf supervisor tries to cheer him up by pointing out all the things Buddy excels at–like changing the lightbulbs every six months–behind his back they gripe that he’s slowing them down. Buddy overhears one such conversation, and is sent to the equivalent of a sheltered workshop for “special elves” (here the word “special” is used as a pejorative) where he performs repetitive busywork. A maniacal Jack-in-the-Box terrifies Buddy, and Santa must intervene.

Santa tells Buddy that he’s really been human all along, and must go to New York in search of his biological father. Buddy catches the next ice floe out of there, but after a socially awkward reunion with Walter Hobbs, his reluctant father believes Buddy is mentally ill.

Buddy persists in trying to form a relationship with his father, and (after an unusually quick paternity test) Walter is convinced of his duty to Buddy. He takes him home to a very understanding wife and son for nurturing, but after realizing he cannot leave Buddy alone in an unfamiliar world, takes him to work in the hopes he’ll sit quietly in the corner.

Buddy barges in on a meeting with the aforementioned children’s book author Miles Finch and mistakes him for one of his elf compatriots. Miles takes offense, lists his accomplishments (houses in various cities, plasma TVs, more “action” than Buddy’s ever seen), and challenges Buddy to “Call me elf, one more time!” Unaware of the human world’s sad history of labelling assertive disabled people as “angry”, Buddy whispers that he must be an “angry elf”.

Miles charges down the length of the conference table and opens up a travel-size can of whoopass. Someone’s been taking his adaptive martial arts lessons. Watch the full “Angry Elf” scene (unfortunately not embeddable). The scene is played for laughs, but such a beatdown is quite possible; little people do have normal or almost normal strength in their arms and legs. Combined with a low center of gravity, judo training, and the element of surprise, and it’s small wonder that Miles prevails.

Interestingly, the Elf Original Motion Picture Score lists the incidental music track for that scene as “Attack of the Little People”. The words “dwarf” and “midget”, currently considered pejorative, aren’t uttered in Elf. The producers show a sensitivity to disability issues, and even wring some humor out of them.