"Elf the Musical"

A scene from "Elf the Musical" at Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. (Joan Marcus / January 3, 2014)

“Elf the Musical” is ho ho hum.

The Christmas-themed stage version of the Will Ferrell 2003 mega-hit movie splinters off into a different direction that is curiously distancing and asks nothing of the audience.

The basic story is the same, however: An orphan named Buddy (played with Martin Short-like mania by Matt Kopec) crawls into Santa’s bag and is accidentally whisked to the North Pole, where the human child is raised as an elf. Once grown, Buddy journeys to Manhattan to reunite with his long-lost family and remind the city of the true meaning of Christmas.

Like the film, “Elf the Musical” has humor as broad as the Arctic Ocean. But it offers a blizzard of jokes that don’t stick and a handful of ones that do. Santa doesn’t “schlep” a book that lists who’s naughty or nice, anymore — it’s all on his iPad. And he stopped using flying reindeer to pull his sleigh after PETA sent him a poison-pen letter.


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The show is cute, with trickling tunes and treacly lyrics. But you can’t help expecting more from a show that runs for more than two hours, with a 15-minute intermission.

“Elf the Musical” will close Sunday at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., in Miami. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday and 2 p.m. matinee Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Tickets start at $26. Call 305-949-6722 or go to ArshtCenter.org.