written by David Steffen
Elf is a musical theater production that made it’s Broadway debut in 2010, based on the 2003 movie of the same name.
The play features a very similar plot to the movie, starring Buddy, a human who was accidentally brought to the North Pole by Santa Claus when he was a child and raised by Christmas elves ever since. Buddy is now an adult and struggling to fit in because of his gargantuan size and underperformance in the toy factory (lacking the elfish extreme aptitude for toymaking). He happens to overhear someone say that he’s really a human. He finds out that he had been given up for adoption by his mother who passed away, but his father is a businessman working in New York City.
So Buddy sets out to find his father Walter Hobbs, who is working at a publisher in the Empire State Building that makes children’s books. He has no familiarity with the human world, how money works, or that anyone thinks that Santa Claus isn’t real. Walter Hobbs has a wife and son and doesn’t welcome the presence of a man dressed as a Christmas elf who claims to be his son.
I love the movie version of this. I’m generally not a Will Ferrell fan, but to me the movie was Will Ferrell at his best, with the perfect performance for the wide-eyed innocence of a human being who has grown up in the miniature saccharine world of the North Pole, and much of it comes from the unexpectedness of the story. The play, since it’s based on the movie, loses much of the novelty inherent, and it does very little new with the concept. It does add the musical element of it, but as far as musicals go, it didn’t have any songs that stick in my head the way they do for a great musical (the only one that I remember at all is the title song “The Story of Buddy the Elf” and I think I only remember that one because they played it frequently on TV commercials for months ahead of time. On top of that, it was hard not to measure the main actor’s performances against Will Ferrell who, as I say, I’m not generally a fan of but pulls of this particular role quite spectacularly.
If the story sounds like fun, I would definitely check out the movie version, but the theater version didn’t wow me.