By Nicole Martin
Despite the massive success of Will Ferrell's Elf (2003) and the cultural phenomenon it becomes every year shortly after Halloween, Elf the Musical has never really caught on. After debuting on Broadway five years ago, the three limited runs each Christmas season and subsequent national tours seemed to come and go with a whimper.
Now that I've finally seen the show for myself, it isn't hard to understand why. In fact, the show's relationship to the original source material has to be the only reason the show received whimpers instead of the truly terrible response it deserves.
Entirely immemorable and fluffy to the point of pure laziness, the plot is squished down and simplified in such a sloppy way that each song feels like a hybrid of condescending narration and ridiculous lesson-learning. Regardless of the cast and creative team's best efforts - they do seem to be having fun and there is a lot of talent involved - they simply cannot replace the irresistible charm of the movie when their vessel is as lazy as boxed stuffing. The kids may find something to enjoy here, but anyone looking for more than even the most basic of entertainment should consider looking elsewhere.
Elf runs at the Marriott Linconshire through December 31st. For more information: http://www.marriotttheatre.com/show/elf