In the realm of children’s entertainment, The Smurfs is certainly not the worst film out there. This isn’t to say it’s a good film, either. It’s not. Not only is this film full of lazy writing and over-the-top, cartoon-like violence, but this film has possibly one of the worst performances from Hank Azaria I have ever witnessed.
In a world that isn’t ours, there is a medieval realm where the Smurfs live. On the day of the Blue Moon Festival, the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria) discovers Smurf village and chases Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters), Brainy Smurf (Fred Armisen), Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin), Gutsy Smurf (Alan Cumming), and Smurfette (Katy Perry) into a cavern where a magic portal appears. Through this portal, everyone is taken to New York City. Now, they all must work together to get back to their own world without being destroyed by Gargamel.
The premise of this movie is crazy. To think about it for more than two seconds is just silly. Still, that doesn’t mean the script has to be bad, and, to be completely honest, the script isn’t terrible. This story has morals, a likable main cast, and a follow-able plot. Of course, as this film is based on one-note characters, there are a lot of one note jokes. Grouchy Smurf is always grouchy, Gutsy smurf is always gutsy, clumsy smurf is always… well, you get the idea. Many jokes play off of these archetypes, and they’re fun for about the first 5 minutes, but they get old fast.
Where the writing really suffers in this film is during chase scenes. One such scene takes place at an FAO Schwartz. During this chase, kids and parents chase one smurf thinking it’s a new toy, Grouchy Smurf flirts with a green M&M plush doll, and two of the remaining Smurfs guide a giant stuffed bear around the store. To top it all off, Gargamel chases the smurfs with a leaf blower/sucker. Needless to say things got silly and made no sense. Apparently in children’s films, the IQ of Earth’s population goes down a few notches.
Then there was the violence. In every scene Gargamel is in, he hurts himself terribly, either on accident or by coming in contact with the Smurfs. This would be cute if it wasn’t so “deadly.” At one point, he gets a spiked apple catapulted at his but. OW! Also, Gargamel’s CGI pet cat loses part of it’s ear. I know it’s not a real cat, but where are these animal rights groups when you need them?
Finally, the film’s biggest problem was Hank Azaria. He portrayed his character Gargamel as if the film was a joke. Sure, the film itself was a joke, but because everyone else in the film took their role seriously, even the voice actors, he simply seemed lame. It was impossible not to groan in every scene he was in. Azaria has only been in one film I have enjoyed him thoroughly in, and that was The Birdcage. It looks like that’ll continue to be his only good live-action role. Neil Patrick Harris was this film’s saving grace. He was wonderful as always.
As this film was half CGI, I can’t comment on this film without critiquing the animation. To be honest, it was pretty good. The Smurf’s looked “cartoony”, but they were supposed to. It was actually really well done, I thought. The only problems came when the actors had to hold the make believe creatures.
The Smurfs may be a bad film for adults, but children will enjoy it. Is it worth the money to make the kids behave for an hour and a half? Not at all. This is one smurf of a film, and I couldn’t “smurfamend” it to anyone. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention they all say smurf a lot in places that make no sense? Have fun with that…
Katy Smurfete ♥