Review: The Smurfs

daniel cohen reviews the big screen adaptation of the cartoon classic …

Plot: While chasing down the Smurfs in an attempt to steal their magical essence, the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and a handful of Smurfs accidentally open a portal that magically whisks them away to New York City. After befriending a human couple, the Smurfs try and get back to Smurf Village with Gargamel still on their tail.

I was going to start out my review by saying ‘Smurf this movie,’ but then I realized I had more self-respect for myself. So how many times do people say the word ‘Smurf’ in this film? Let me put it this way: If the word ‘Smurf’ was the word of the day on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, and they were sitting around watching this movie, every television in the country would explode. It’s ‘Smurf’ overload. But to the film’s credit, they at least recognize how ridiculously overused the word is. And besides them using ‘Smurf’ in every line of dialogue, this actually isn’t a terrible film. But make no mistake … it’s not good either.

The first act is pretty rough. It’s typical kid’s movie cliché BS. We get Smurfs bumbling around and knocking things over, plenty of toilet humor, and the Smurfs are even named after their personalities like ‘Clumsy,’ ‘Greedy,’ and ‘Jokey.’ Wow. Talk about a loop hole to avoid any effort to create character development. They are just given names. ‘Narrator Smurf’ was kind of clever, though.

The film is painfully repetitive. I would say two-thirds of this movie is nothing but chase scenes. And they all end the same way. The Smurfs barely get away as Gargamel crashes into various walls. Yay.

Once the Smurfs come into contact with the Winslow couple played by Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays (Glee), it’s surprisingly tolerable. All the human actors are putting in a good effort, especially Hank Azaria as Gargamel, who’s actually pretty funny. He has a good back and forth banter with his cat Azrael. Even though he’s the paint by numbers kid villain who endures countless barrages of physical comedy, Azaria makes it work. He also has a few good scenes with Sofia Vergara (Modern Family).

And I can’t help but admit the Smurfs are genuinely likable. They never get too annoying and have a good dynamic with each other. The voice acting all around is pretty solid. Even George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf steps it up.

Katy Perry also puts in a strong effort as Smurfette, even though she’s forced to say, ‘I kissed a Smurf and I liked it.’ That was unfortunate. I feel bad for Smurfette. She’s the only female Smurf in the entire village, and I have to think that will turn her into an evil Smurf at some point as I would imagine she’s constantly hit on by hundreds of Smurfs everyday.

There’s a tendency to have a lot of bad dance sequences in these movies, but there’s really only one where the Smurfs rock out to Guitar Hero with Neil Patrick Harris. The Smurfs are basically winking at the camera during this. I feel like this was an annoying commercial for Guitar Hero, but that’s kind of unnecessary as everyone already owns it.

This is a run of the mill kid’s movie that does nothing special. Do you think the male protagonist will hate the Smurfs at first, but eventually learns something from them? Yea, this isn’t very complex. But in terms of a kid’s movie, it’s harmless. There’s minimal toilet humor, it never gets too gross, and is perfectly tolerable for adults. If your kid is dragging you to this movie, you’ll be fine.

With all these Smurf personalities though, it does make me wonder whether there’s a more adult Smurf Village on the other side of town that has ‘Stoned Smurf,’ ‘Manic Depressive Smurf,’ and ‘Unemployed Smurf.’ I don’t know, I guess that will be the sequel.

Rating: 5.5 out of 10 (Passable Entertainment)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.

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