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STUDIO Columbia Pictures
RUNNING TIME 103 Minutes
•Deleted and Extended Scenes
•Happy Music Montage
•2 Commentary Tracks
•The Smurfs: Comic Book to the Big Screen
•Smurf Speak: Meet the Cast
•Smurf-o-vision: The Second Screen Experience
•The Smurfs Fantastic Adventure Game
•Find the Smurfs Game
•Mini Movie The Smurfs A Christmas Carol
The blue gnomes from fantasy land get transported to NYC where they fend off the evil wizard Gargamel, his eerily smart cat and adoption by a workaholic.
Director: Raja Gosnell Actors: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara Voices: Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, Katy Perry, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin
When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world into New York City.
I’m starting to expand my children’s films, so I started with The Smurfs, thinking it would be entertaining enough to sit through. I am an unapologetic fan of How I met your Mother , and also Modern Family, so how bad could a movie starring the actors I consider to be the funniest in both of those shows coupled with a childhood nostalgia for the Saturday morning blue dwarfs.
First I need to point out my review details how I feel about the film as an adult. It will be much better for children, and they won’t have the problems that I have with it. I feel my duty as a reviewer is to review based on my experience, not the experience meant for the target audience. I enjoy children’s films as much as I enjoy 80s slashers and the millennium torture porn films.
The Smurfs has a few standouts that prevent it from being a complete failure. The biggest of which is Hank Azaria as Gargamel. Anytime he is on the screen, he demands your full attention, with the only exception being his cat, but I will get to that in a minute. Azaria is Garamel, not just playing a part but he became the cartoon character from my youth. His voice is spot on, and when you add the practical makeup effects, he is a spitting image. Most of the action involving Azaria involves physical humor and often from CGI generated objects. He knocks it out of the park. Everything he interacts with appears to be real in his eyes. There was no doubt he saw smurfs.
The other good character and fun item was the cat. Azreal has amazing digital effects that turn a realistic cat into a cat with a human like personality. He perfectly compliments Azaria, and is the only thing that doesn’t fade into the background when Azaria is on the screen.
The rest of the movie and cast is nothing more than what software venders call shovel ware. All the other actors didn’t appear to do much more than call in for a paycheck. Harris comes off flat, Vergera seems bored and the with only a few exceptions, the voice over work carried very little emotion.
The screenplay took an extremely interesting concept of the magically hidden creatures hiding for their lives from a creepy mad scientist, and for no apparent reason (other than CGI budgeting) move the story to Manhattan, and make them fight to get home again. Manhattan is interesting, and has some great things to share with children, but what the hell possessed anyone to take blue gnomes that live in mushrooms and put them in a city to use FAO Schwartz and taxi cabs for cheap jokes.
The CGI is even worse. Often I found myself thinking that the live reaction didn’t match the CGI that was to have caused it. Harris and Mays both appear to hold smurfs that are much smaller than the final product, making any interaction with the smurfs look awkward and out of place.
The smurfs look good, but the voice over work had too little humor in it, and George Lopez became more annoying as the film continued. I did enjoy Yelchin, Winters, Cummings and even Perry, but when the script was as lackluster as it was, then the simple ability to get through it seemed like a test to my endurance.
I feel a little bad, because kids will have a good time with it, but The Smurfs sets the bar surprisingly low. Just because children can be entertained by cheap humor, it doesn’t mean we want to show them the unoriginal, uninspired carcass of what was cartoon hour gold.
The Blu Ray package I reviewed was extremely well packaged. It came with the feature on both DVD and Blu, and also included the half CGI/half traditionally animated The Smurfs A Christmas Carol. The short was actually much better than the feature, and gave better homage to the source material.
The extras included an adventure game that wasn’t that fun to play with a remote, some CGI generated Blue-pers, a limited set of deleted scenes, a music montage, two commentary tracks, a comic book comparison and some behind the scenes with the cast, the CGI team and Hank Azaria on his Gargamel transformation.
Add to the rest of the special features an interactive Iphone/Ipad app that syncs over your wireless network and plays at the same time as the film. I did half the film this way, but felt it was too distracting to the actual movie. As a child though, this is playtime gold. It has a lot of touch this items that have something strange to do with what is going on in the film. As I used the app, I think I shocked Gargamel at least 5 different times, popped bubbles and created mushroom homes.
The loaded set actually increases my 1.5 rating to a 2, because it is a great set.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars