The Smurfs (2011)

Will make you want to Smurf yourself

Based on the Peyo cartoon, The Smurfs are chased out of their village by the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and forced through a portal, into our world, landing in New York City. With the help of Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his wife Grace (Jayma Mays), they must find a way to get back into their village before Gargamel tracks them down.

After providing us with the two live-action disasters that were the Scooby Doo movies and forcing the god-awful shit-stain on the rug that was Beverly Hills Chihuahua upon the world, Raja Gosnell manages to prove his worthlessness as a director with another live-action mess of a film.

The film does have a line-up of talented actors, both live and voice, but unfortunatley gives them little to do. To accomodate the fact that this is a kids film, the main Smurfs that the film focuses on seem to have been modified to appeal more to children, and by modified, I mean reduced to stereotypes. Papa Smurf, being the oldest of the Smurfs, is given many lines that empthasise on him being old, such as the standard "Ow, my hip" and the swearless Lethal Weapon line "I'm getting too old for this". Smurfette is now a ditzy blonde who's shocked by the amount of dresses she could have and manages to beat up a cat for one scene. Brainy Smurf manages to be the typical geek stereotype that Hollywood offensively imagines, which is glasses wearing, weak, accident prone and cowardly, while Grouchy Smurf continuously proves that he should've been named Whiny Smurf. Clumsy Smurf takes the cliched and unimaginative route that goes onto the character proving themself and eventually being the hero and Gutsy Smurf just cashes in on the Scottish jokes. Hank Azaria plays the villianous role by hamming it up rather than trying to be a formidable foe for the tiny foes he could've easily stepped on.

The plot is quite flimsy, with the film basically borrowing it from the much-better film Enchanted, and then dumbing it up so the kids can enjoy. Also, I noticed one big plot hole. Why did Gargamel go through the portal after the 6 Smurfs, instead of not going through the portal and going after the other 94 Smurfs that were still in that world?

In my review for Avatar, I mentioned how seemingly natural it looked when a CG character was holding a live-action character and how much it did not seem like a big clash, but how they managed to perfectly contrast with one another. The Smurfs, however, went in the opposite direction from James Cameron's blockbuster hit, as there was one moment when Patrick was holding a Smurf and it just looked like a big clash of CGI and live action.

Keep searching, there's bound to be a better director out there

The humour is really where the film fails the most. The fish-out-of-water shtick gets old really fast for both The Smurfs and Gargamel, with the low point being the wizard mistaking a champagne cooler for a chamberpot in the middle of a posh restaurant. This being a kids film, it manages to rely on slapstick humour quite a number of the time, whilst at the same time proving why this is one of the lower forms of comedy (ranking alongside Freidberg/Seltzer films and Pauly Shore). The film also tries it's hand at not-so subtle references such as The Smurfs standing in front of signs for Blu-Ray and The Blue Man Group, whilst Smurfette, who's voiced by Katy Perry, says that she kissed a Smurf and liked it, all of which just leaves you rolling your eyes. The constant over-use of the substitued word Smurf gets old very early on and the constant tune they sing will have you wanting something from Glee instead.

And yet, this movie isn't entirely terrible. Despite being given little to work with, Neil Patrick Harris manages to pull off the best performance of the film as the likeable cliched lead who just wants to not get fired, and his character manages to bring up one or two questions that many have had about the Smurfs, such as the fact they're named after their personalities and the over-use of a "certain word". Hank Azaria managed to make me crack a smile or two in the small moments when he wasn't hamming it up. I feel that I have to hand it to Raja Gosnell that the CGI used on Gargamel's cat, Azarael, was not as unconvincingly awful as what he used for Scooby-Doo.

If you're a child, you'll find The Smurfs to be a hilarious film with it's slapstick humour, characters reduced to stereotypes, not so subtle references, over-the-top pantomime villian and simplistic plot. If you're an adult, however, prepare for a boring 102 minutes.


Tom_Film_Master said…
I reviewed this today is well, It was boring and predictable, and your right, only kids will like it. That is why I gave it a little higher of a rating than you. Great review!