When Hollywood does live action mixed with animation properly you get Who Framed Roger Rabbit? When done poorly you get the Scooby-Doo movies. It’s latest attempt is The Smurfs. Yup those blue creatures from the 1980’s that stood only 3 apples high and were everywhere from TV to t-shirts and lunch boxes to the tiny action figures/dolls you kept on your shelves. If you grew up in the 80’s be prepared for Hollywood to ruin yet another popular fad that you loved.
The Smurfs live quietly together in their mushroom houses singing and dancing and playing hidden deep inside the forest. Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is an evil wizard who wants to capture them to harness their power. Clumsy Smurf (named because he’s clumsy) accidentally shows Gargamel the way into their village. Running to escape the wizard and his cat Azrael, a small group of Smurfs escape into a portal transporting them to New York City.
In NYC, Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Clumsy, Gutsy and Grouchy try to find a way back to their home. Gargamel and Azrael both made it through the portal and are on the lookout for the missing Smurfs. While in New York, the blue creatures befriend Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays from Glee). They have adventures with Patrick through New York City all while trying to find a way home and avoid being captured. Can our little heroes escape Gargamel’s clutches and make it back to their village or will Gargamel once and for all capture his ultimate goal?
So if you are over 30 and remember the animated show and don’t have kids wanting to see this movie, avoid this one. The Smurfs is no Pixar movie suitable for both adults and kids. The kids should like it though. The kids in the screening in Boston seemed to laugh especially at the cat Azrael. This one is definitely for the kiddies especially the young kiddies.
With big name voices like pop star Katy Perry as Smurfette, Anton Yelchin (Star Trek) as Clumsy, George Lopez as Grouchy, Alan Cumming as Gutsy and Fred Armisen as Brainy, you would expect more from it, but a kids’ movie in the summer time is fine (I guess). Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays seemed awkward at times “pretending” to be holding and dealing with little blue creatures that were later CGI’d into the film and the film overall doesn’t use NPH’s talent to the best of his abilities. NPH is a versatile actor who sings and dances on stage yet other than a dreadful Rockband video game scene, Harris was totally underused.
Maybe films like Toy Story and Shrek have programmed us into thinking animated films for kids should entertain adults too and we’ve just become too cynically jaded about what to expect out of cartoons, but when movies like The Smurfs come out and are really only for kids, we adults seem disappointed. Kids might make the movie a hit and if it is, it will clearly get a sequel, but don’t expect parents to be thanking their lucky stars their kids begged them to see it.