The Smurfs
2011 Running time: 103 Certificate: u Not yet rated
The Smurfs KA

Synopsis

When the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village they find themselves smack bang in the middle of New York's Central Park. They take shelter with married couple Patrick and Grace Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays) and try to find a way back to their village before Gargamel finds them. Based on the original Belgian comic story, this is the first in a trilogy of CGI/live-action films featuring the little fellas. Look out for Katy Perry rocking up and singing she kissed a smurf "and I liked it!"

Director

  • Raja Gosnell

Cast

  • Hank Azaria

  • Jonathan Winters

  • Katy Perry

  • Neil Patrick Harris

  • Jayma Mays

Review

It's been a long time since we took a trip to Smurf Village, with the TV show a thing of the past and the comics consigned to history.

Which is why it's a little sad that, having upgraded Scooby-Doo for the big-screen, director Raja Gosnell takes the little blue creatures out of their quaint little home and dumps them into the mouth of madness aka Manhattan.

But once there, it's the kind of action that will almost certainly keep the pre-teens entertained.

On the run, as ever, from evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria), the key Smurfs from the TV hit (including Papa, Grouchy, Clumsy and the Katy Perry-voiced Smurfette) find themselves transported to New York via a mysterious portal, where they meet a freaked-out Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his slightly calmer wife, Grace (Jayma Mays).

Gargamel dares to follow, and so the Smurfs-out-of-water find themselves in a bizarre land, while facing the same problem as always - how to avoid capture by the smurfnapping warlock, only with a pair of humans to aid their return to Smurf Village.

It's treading on the toes of the far superior Enchanted, while adding a level of cynicism and laziness that fairytale movie did well to avoid, with such jokes as the Smurfs being mistaken for The Blue Man Group and Gargamel being tasered by the NYPD being about as good as it gets.

With so many family movies around that do more than simply pander to the pre-teen masses, it's a shame this adaptation aims so low, with only Azaria offering some genuine, if basic slapstick entertainment.

Director Gosnell is best known for introducing CGI characters into live action films - see also Scooby-Doo and Beverly Hills Chihuahua - and he's yet to better that rather low watermark with a blend of blue CGI and an uncanny valley cat, that rarely look photorealistic.

The product placement - Smurfs playing Guitar Hero was not a narrative requisite - is heavy handed, and the performances of the live cast, in particular Neil Patrick Harris, are, at times, rather embarrasing, as the actor is required to learn life lessons from a four-inch blue man with a beard and silly hat.

But The Smurfs is aimed squarely at the kids, and not those who remember growing up to that la-la-la tune you can't get out of your head. In terms of hitting the Smurfs it was Smurfing for, it Smurfs plenty of them.

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