The Smurfs seemed like a good idea on the small screen thirty years ago. The little blue people, three apples high, have won my heart as one of the 1980’s kids who watched it on Saturday Morning. They filled my heart with laughter, kindness, and that warm fuzzy. The Smurfs cartoon will always be a timeless classic to me. Let’s us fast forward to 2010s. It is a time where the beloved cartoon goes where many cartoons have tried and failed before; the big screen. Directed by Raja Gosnell, The Smurfs went to same road as Alvin & the Chipmunks, Garfield, Scooby-Doo and countless others by taking a great
product from our childhood and turning it into a modern day/live action/CGI mess. Here is my smurfin’ review of this latest nauseating nostalgia move by Hollywood.
The movie starts off with the familiar setting of the Smurf village in the medieval period. The little blue people sing their happy song while getting ready for the Festival of the Blue Moon. Meanwhile, the evil sorcerer Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azreal are desperately trying to catch all the smurfs to steal their powerful Smurf spirit in order to become the most powerful sorcerer in the world. Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) saw a vision where Clumsy (voiced by Anton Yelchin) causes a major disruption that affects the lives of their fellow smurfs. While escaping from the clutches of Gargamel , a magical water vortex transports Papa, Clumsy, Gutsy (Alan Cumming), Brainy (Fred Armisen), Grouchy (George Lopez), and the lovely Smurfette (Katy Petty) to modern day New York City. While in NYC, the Smurfs enlist the help of soon-to-be promoted cosmetic marking VP Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Hays) to find the blue moon and the magical spell that will send them back home to their village before Gargamel captures them all.
This is the SECOND time that director Raja Gosnell took one of my favorite childhood cartoons and makes it into a live-action shadow of its former glory. Mind you, this film could have suffered a sicker fate than the cartoon made movies I mentioned before. The one thing I did enjoy about the movie is the ongoing tributes of its creation and creator Peyo, who introduces the world of Smurfs to us. The Smurfs became the wisecracks of its own culture when NPH made a direct point of how annoying The Smurf Song can be yet he hums it later on. Remember how “smurf” is used to describe any old thing back in the cartoon that you could not tell if it was good or bad. You can expect the same thing that I lost track at 100 times. The performances by Harris and Mays were good even though the storyline was in numerous
directions. While Azaria’s performance as Gargamel was as over the top you can get. He brings some Jerry Lewis antics to the role in the film and brings us the slapstick laughs through his misadventures in the Big Apple. Even the scene where Odlie (Sofia Vergara) calls Gargamel “garbage smell” gets a little chuckle for the effort.
Pop culture provides a lot of meat in the film. You can expect a Guitar Hero jam sequence (a la Hop) which a trio of Smurfs were rapping an improv version of the Run-DMC classic, Walk This Way. Can I say gag me a spoon without sounding dated? Other references includes Brokeback Mountain, Blue Man Group, celebrity cameos by Joan Rivers and Liz Smith, and a Katy Perry lyric we knew it was coming from a mile away.
The kids of today will look at this film and enjoy it for the relation of the curiosity of being in a new world. They will cheered for the Smurfs as they make their way back home, Who wouldn’t, and laugh at the antics they and Gargamel go through while surviving the Big Apple. The kids of my generation will look at this and wonder, WHY! Why does Hollywood believe that any cartoon of the 80’s needed to be modernized for the silver screen and fails time and time again? While The Smurfs maybe all cuddly and nearly good for the family, I rather you take this movie with a grain a salt. That’s concludes my smurfin’ review.
FINAL GRADE: C-
TRR Movie Revue by Dean Rogers