The Smurfs **
Directed by: Raja Gosnell.
Written by: J. David Stem & David N. Weiss & Jay Scherick & David Ronn based on the characters of Peyo.
Starring: Hank Azaria (Gargamel), Neil Patrick Harris (Patrick Winslow), Jayma Mays (Grace Winslow), Sofía Vergara (Odile), Tim Gunn (Henri), Jonathan Winters (Papa), Alan Cumming (Gutsy), Katy Perry (Smurfette), Fred Armisen (Brainy), George Lopez (Grouchy), Anton Yelchin (Clumsy).
As a kid, I remember watching The Smurfs TV show and enjoying it, even if all these years later, I don’t remember much about the show itself other than the Smurfs were blue, lived in mushrooms and were constantly fighting against Gargamel and his cat Azarel. Oh, and that Papa Smurf was the only one who got to wear red, and apparently there was only one girl smurf, Smurfette. Everything else, is long forgotten, so I approached the new Smurfs movie hoping that it would tap into that kid who used to love them so (as the Alvin and the Chipmunks movies have done in their best moments). Sadly, it doesn’t. It’s a very colorful movie, a very quick movie, with a lot of kiddie potty humor and not a whole lot else. Kids will love it, but unlike the best kids movies, this is one that parents would be advised to stick in the DVD player and find something else to do for two hours.
The plot centers around the Smurfs, once again, trying to twart Gargamel (Hank Azaria), who wants to capture them to get their “essence” which will make him a much more powerful wizard than he already is. Clumsy Smurf accidentally leads Gargamel to the secret Smurf village, making everyone flee, and then stupid Clumsy, takes the wrong path and is followed by some of his friends – Papa, Smurfette, Gutsy, Brainy and Grouchy, where eventually they end up being sucked into a portal that takes them to New York City, with Gargamel and Azarel close behind them. Now, they need to find a way to reopen the portal and get home, while also trying to dodge Gargamel. They are helped in their efforts by Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays), who they accidentally meet and befriend.
There are a couple of jokes in the movie I liked – but I think they were mostly showcased in the preview, like Patrick asking them if they get their names at birth or after they exhibited certain personality characteristics (to which the Smurfs just reply “yes”, which of course makes no sense), or Patrick asking if they never find that song they always sing annoying. But for the most part, nothing much made be smile much, let alone laugh. I have to admit that Neil Patrick Harris does what he can in the role of Patrick – making him much more down to earth and believable than he has any right to be. And Hank Azaria has a blast going completely and totally over the top as the bumbling idiot Gargamel. He’s so inept, that even though he is an evil wizard, you don’t have to worry about nightmares for the kiddies.
The Smurfs was made for children, so perhaps it’s unfair to criticize the movie for being something that kids will like, but adults won’t. And make no mistake, children will like The Smurfs, even if the movie does run a little on the long side (over 100 minutes for a freaking Smurfs movie). Still, if you have young children and buy the DVD, you’ll most likely be tempted to break it at some point, as that song will get stuck in your head as the kids watch and rewatch it. The Smurfs is what it is – a movie made strictly for kids – nothing more, nothing less.