The Smurfs (Rated PG)
Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria, Sofia Vergara
Voice work by Jonathon Winters, Katy Perry, George Lopez, Alan Cummings
Directed by Raja Gosnell
Plot: Based on the characters created by Peyo and the 1980’s Saturday morning cartoon, the movie follow a small band of Smurfs who are chased through a portal to our world by the evil Gargamel.
I am going to have to eat a little crow on this one and admit it wasn’t the total suckfest I was expecting. I probably deserve a flogging for underestimating the power of NPH to make even The Smurfs palatable.
Papa Smurf (Winters) and several other Smurfs are chased by Gargamel (Azaria) through a portal that takes them from their cartoonish world into ours – specifically New York City. Once here, they end up staying with a young couple just getting ready to start a family. Neil Patrick Harris is Patrick Winslow, a marketing executive on a deadline. Jayma Mays (Glee) is his pregnant wife who is trying to support her husband at work, but is also trying to keep him grounded at home. After the Smurfs enter their lives, of course, chaos ensues and everyone learns a lesson to make them better people (or Smurfs) in the end.
The special effects were surprisingly well done and worked much better than some other CGI/live-action mashups. Whether it’s the Smurfs themselves or Azreal (Gargamel’s cat), the characters have more life than some of the life action actors I’ve seen on film this year. Add to that, some very good 3D (and that’s from a 3D hater), the movie provides a great visual experience.
Where the story is most effective is in the scenes with Neil Patrick Harris. Whether he is working with real actors or little blue animated ones, his charisma and charm carry the movie. Azaria is so outlandish as Gargamel – at times spot on and other just annoying; I really give him credit for just going for it in every scene. Jayma Mays is sweet and funny, and she and NPH have good chemistry together.
As far as the voices of the Smurfs go, Jonathan Winters and Katy Perry (as Smurfette) are really good, as is Alan Cummings as Scottish-brogued Gutsy Smurf. The only weak part here (for me anyway) was George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf; his voice just didn’t seem to fit the character.
As far as the story goes, I felt like it was a nice homage to the children’s series, and they even have a tribute to Peyo, who created the characters in the late 1950’s. The story is juvenile, but let’s face it, that’s the target audience. Anyone who watched and enjoyed the series as a kid will see their favorite Smurfs represented and should feel a touch of nostalgia.
The movie was a pleasant surprise. Is it silly? Of course. Is it mindless? Totally. Ultimately, The Smurfs is what it is supposed to be – a funny, family movie that kids will like and parents won’t hate.
Just a head’s up for parents with small children. The Smurfs use the word “smurf” in just about every sentence, and a surprisingly large amount of those “smurfs” are used as replacement for crude or bad language such as “Who smurfed?”, “Where the smurf are we?” and “Smurf me!” I didn’t find it offensive, but forewarned is forearmed.
If you are in the Ames area, The Smurfs is playing in its opening week at the Cinemark Movies 12 at the following times:
RealD 3D – 12:40 PM, 3:20 PM, 6:05 PM, 8:40 PM
Standard – 11:20 AM, 2:00 PM, 4:40 PM, 7:20 PM, 10:00 PM
Theatrical times are always subject to change, so I recommend checking Cinemark.com for the latest showtimes.
In other areas, check out Fandango.com for theaters and showtimes.