Movie Review – The Smurfs

Small, Blue and Annoying
As a child I had found The Smurfs to be irritable, and after watching the film, I found my childhood feelings being reinforced even more strongly.
The Smurfs is not a bad movie. It is sickening. The target audience maybe very small children, but the producers (and the director, scriptwriter or anyone else who had anything to say about how the movie went) seem to do small kids a disservice and take it for granted that kids will love anything small and cute even though it walks around being unbearable and spouting inanities.
The movie is set mostly in New York, where the Smurfs end up accidentally after being discovered and chased by Gargamel (Hank Azaria), who, needless to say, is the villain. My sympathies were with Gargamel in the cartoon version, but Hank Azaria’s Gargamel is tiresome and irritating. No doubt if his grandkids ever see the movie, they will be rooting for the Smurfs, and that’s saying something. The Smurfs end up at the home of Patrick and Grace Winslow. Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Patrick, is the life saver here. Even with pretty much nothing to play with, corny dialogues included, he manages a decent job. Clumsy smurf, who is naturally named after his field of expertise- being unnaturally clumsy- has the job of being the character who is initially treated with apprehension but ends up being a hero. Meanwhile Gargamel has, of course, followed the Smurfs into New York and finally captures Papa Smurf, who-naturally- sacrifices himself to save the rest of his family. How the Smurfs end up rescuing him – it is a children’s movie, there are no sad endings- make up the rest of the film. Somehow.
The trouble with Smurfs is that it seems like a lot of wasted effort. Surely this could have been made better? I find the minions of Despicable Me a far more endearing alternative, and that is because they have a heartening aspect to them. The Smurfs are just what their names pronounce them to be – Clumsy, Grouchy, etcetera.  (and if I had my way, Idiocy) Walt Disney showed how people could love a generally small but varied set of people – Snow White’s Seven Dwarfs. Even though the Dwarfs and Smurfs are vastly different, I can’t help note how the argument that “it-is-for-kids” would hardly stand up here. And I am not even going to start on the talent that they’ve wasted in the voice actors on the cast. Someone might also do well to write a long apology letter to Azaria for allowing himself to make a mess of the fine actor that he is. I saw the film in 3D, and I can say that, for a change, the 3D was pretty okay.
One of the more frightening aspects of Hollywood these days is the insane number of sequels that they seem to bring out – Transformers andPirates of the Caribbean being the two most forgettable examples- and I fear that The Smurfs may get their screen life extended by some deluded producer. I can’t wait.
Two out of five stars.