For Christmas this year, the elves in Santa’s workshop ought to build us a better new musical than “Elf,” which is hardly worth adding to anyone’s holiday wish list.
This stage adaptation of the 2003 Will Ferrell film observes an overgrown elf named Buddy who learns that he is actually human and then ventures to Manhattan to find his real father and reconnect with his family.
Such a cute story surely has the potential to make a decent musical comedy. But in spite of promising source material and a strong creative team, “Elf” has turned out to be flavorless, sappy and awfully cheap-looking.
It relies too heavily on sentimental fluff and adds only disappointing and forgettable songs. The physical comedy of the film is completely lost in translation.
To his credit, Sebastian Arcelus works hard in the lead role of Buddy. He bursts forward with giddy innocence, but he doesn’t exactly bring in a lot of laughs.
George Wendt makes a glorified cameo as Santa Claus, with perhaps 10 minutes of stage time. The rest of the cast is rounded out by Broadway regulars such as Beth Leavel, Amy Spanger and Mark Jacoby wasted in dull roles.
As with all Christmas shows, “Elf” ends with an obligatory burst of snow gushing throughout the theater. Unfortunately, that alone doesn’t exactly make for an exciting musical.
If you go: “Elf” plays at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre through Jan. 2. 302 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, elfmusical.com.