Published Jul 28, 2011Leave it to director Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo) to smurf-up childhood nostalgia, which again he does effortlessly in this highly unanticipated live action 3D film.
The Smurfs begins in a CGI-infused Smurf world that resembles the village shown in the popular '80s cartoon, which will please the nostalgic for about ten minutes before the film turns into a steaming pile of smurf.
After Papa Smurf (voiced by original Papa Jonathan Winters) receives a vision that his fellow Smurfs will be threatened, the Smurf village (I'm sorry, but the word "Smurf" is going to come up a lot in this review) gets invaded by dim sorcerer Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his creepy, sometimes computer-generated cat, Azrael.
Trying to avoid becoming Gargamel's meal for the billionth time (seriously, why don't these singing, tiny blue imbeciles relocate?), Clumsy, Smurfette, Grouchy, Gutsy, Brainy and Papa Smurf get sucked into a magical portal that dumps them in the middle of Central Park in New York City. They then have a chance encounter with Patrick Winslow, a VP of a major cosmetics company (played shamelessly by Neil Patrick Harris) and must rely on him and his overly sweet pregnant wife (Jayma Mays) to help them get home, and to protect them against Gargamel. Eye-rolling hijinks and smurfingly bad humour ensue.
Fans of the original cartoon will most likely feel like regurgitating the blue, Curaçao-infused cocktails that gave them the liquid courage to endure this 86-minute atrocity, as The Smurfs is simply a compilation of horrible scenes done surprisingly better in films like Alvin and the Chipmunks and this year's Hop. However, the movie isn't made for the adults who grew up with the show, but for the hyperactive tots who will make their parents buy Smurf memorabilia after the film is over.
Children are guaranteed to love the film, from beginning to end, as it features plenty of poo and pee jokes, which never get old for youngsters straight out of diapers. Adults will chuckle a few times too after realizing the Smurfs use the word "smurf" for swear words, making these tiny blue creatures the most profane mothersmurfers you've ever heard in a family-friendly animated film.
Most of the live-action actors give mildly shtick-y, half-assed performances, but actress Jayma Mays takes pride in her paycheque performance; she's so genuinely sweet that one could be convinced she was auditioning for an American remake of Under The Umbrella Tree.
The Smurfs is as painful as fans of the original television show feared, yet it's full of PG fun kids will enjoy. If cat vomit, wind blowing up Smurfette's skirt and Smurfs singing "Walk This Way" fail to entertain you, take pride in the fact that you can dirty talk to your partner in front of your children by using the word "Smurf." (Sony)