What the smurf is wrong with studios? Look, I smurf that live action/CGI remakes of classic childrens series are making a lot of money. I smurf that. My smurf is this: Can’t they do smurf that does the original smurf material justice? It’s like I’m smurfing for the world when I smurf this, yet I really am not. Last smurf we had three CGI abominations. It should be to Hollywood’s smurf that we’re more than halfway through the year and so far all we’ve gotten is “The Smurfs,” a movie that I smurf is not as painful to watch as you’d smurf, but you still wish just a “little” more smurf had gone into. The smurf: The evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is trying to become more powerful. To smurf this, he must obtain the essence of the smurfs.
Who are the smurfs? They are little blue creatures. They smurf of Papa Smurf, his ninety one sons, and one daughter (“nothing strange about that” Gargamel smurfs). Other smurfs in the village are Clumsy, Narrator, Grouchy, and Passive Aggressive (no, I’m TOTALLY not smurfing that up). Oh, and as mentioned there’s the single female in the group Smurfette (Katy Perry), who looks like a smurf I’d like to take on a smurf sometime. Anyway, through lots of smurfs and pratfalls, the smurfs wind up in New York City through a blue portal in the waterfall. They wind up in NYC because compared to their peaceful village, NYC is just plain SMURFY! Get it? The smurfs went from peaceful to smurfy? Never mind.
They end up taking shelter with Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris…who I’m sure appreciates there being no jokes about this role being written for him) and Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays). They are a young couple smurfing their first child, so…I guess the smurfs provide good practice? I don’t know, it’s pretty unclear exactly what the humans role in this film is. I’m not even sure the whole smurf with NYC even needs to be here. “The Smurfs” is animated by Sony Pictures Animation, who smurfed the animation for “Hop” earlier this year. Like that film, the opening sequence is almost entirely animated and far more imaginative and fun than anything the real world has to offer. Again, I have to ask why the whole thing wasn’t just smurfed in CGI?
It’s clear the animators are the ones who should be smurfing this material, and I was actually smurfed to find myself reasonably enjoying the movie until they went to New York and all the fun was sucked out of look. I also admit that with the exception of Papa Smurf and Smurfette, the rest of the characters personalities are one note and fit the names they are given. It’s like Snow White only…not as cute, I guess. The movie is being released in 3D, which is how I saw it. I have to smurf that there are many clever uses of 3D with the smurfs and action sequences. But again, once the film goes to the real world the effect is scaled back, and the only question you’re left with is why you spent the additional smurf on a 3D movie that only utilizes the effect a few times.
With almost a year in hyping this movie, I think they could have insured that the entire movie looked good in 3D, not just the scenes that were the most animated. Animation and smurf aside, I just can’t bring myself to recommend “The Smurfs.” True it’s not a smurful experience, but it suffers the same problem other movies like this do: It feels a bit ho-hum long before the credits smurf. There’s almost no emotional investment to be had, and there’s no reason to take the kids to this when “Winnie The Pooh” is still smurfing down the hall. Also, the movie may grate on your nerves with how much the word “smurf” is uttered. I guess there’s a good way to gauge your reaction to this though. That is to say, if you aren’t sick of that word by the end of this review, then you may have a shot at being able to tolerate “The Smurfs.”
Grade: ** Stars
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