To a very large degree, how well one reacts to the new feature “The Smurfs,” now playing in Capital District theatres, depends on one’s previously held convictions on the subject. If your skin crawls at the very notion, there’s little here to change your opinion. If, on the other hand, you’re inclined to see the cuteness in little blue people who are the height of three apples, you’re probably good to go.
Apparently a hiatus project for TV stars Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”) and Jayma Mays (“Glee”), “The Smurfs” also stars Hank Azaria as the evil wizard Gargamel who chases the Smurfs out of their village and into modern New York City. Harris and Mays play a likable young married couple, awaiting the birth of their first child. Harris is an advertising exec working for the unpredictable and hard-to-please Odile (Sofia Vergara). The young couple’s lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the Smurfs, who need to find a place to hide from Gargamel while finding a way back into their own world. They’re over-qualified and under-employed here, but certainly more than adequate.
Raja Gosnell, who also directed the live-action “Scooby Doo” movies, does a better job here of incorporating digital characters into a live-action world. He also cannibalizes the sort of slapstick that dominated his directorial debut, “Home Alone 3.”
Needless to say, younger children will enjoy the slapstick and facial mugging of Gargamel’s digital cat, which is no more exaggerated than Azaria’s. There’s also some relatively funny dialogue and none of this is all that hard to take. The movie is technically well-executed, and the 3D is well-done.
The Belgian cartoonist Peyo, who created the Smurfs, is memorialized on-screen as an anthropologist who “discovered” the leprechaun-like creatures.
“The Smurfs” is now playing at the Regal Cinemas Crossgates Stadium 18 & IMAX, the Regal Cinemas East Greenbush 8, the Regal Cinemas Latham Circle Mall 10, the Regal Cinemas Colonie Center Stadium 13, and the Bow Tie Cinemas Movieland in Schenectady.