“The Smurfs” was a TV show I watched a lot in re runs when I was a child, and worked really well as a half hour kids show. The Smurfs were a good and wholesome group of blue people who just wanted to live and enjoy nature. Their enemy was Gargamel who wanted the Smurfs for a number of reasons, sometimes to eat them, and other times to use them in a magical spell. It was quite entertaining and one of the better Hanna-Barbara studios cartoons.
Now in the year 2011, Columbia pictures has released a half computer animated half live action film version of The Smurfs, simply just called The Smurfs. It takes the the characters from the original TV show, and through a random warp transplants them to New York City, and thats just the start of how ridiculous is. The voice acting stars Katy Perry, George Lopez, Alan Cumming, and most notable, in a rare appearance of any kind, legendary comedian Jonathan Winters who does the voice of Papa Smurf. It was really nice hearing Winters voice throughout the film but his character makes about the same caliber of questionable decisions as Qui Gon Jinn in Star Wars: Episode I. He comes off as this wise old sage of the Smurf clan but then acts like a child in situations once they are in New York City. For example, he promises one of the humans they encounter that are kind to them that they will stay put, and not even 10 seconds later runs off with his Smurf friends following suit, even the 5 year olds that this movie is mostly marketed to can stay still longer before turning their words into a lie.
The live action part of the cast must've owed someone a favor because I can't see how else they got them together. The film stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays (from “Glee” fame), Hank Azaria, and in a rare cinema appearance, Tim Gunn from the TV Show“Project Runway” who has one or two good one liners in his limited appearance in the film. Harris and Mays play an expecting married couple who accidentally find the Smurfs in their home and eventually try to help them get back home. Harris works in marketing and worries too much about his job and has to learn a lesson about. Which becomes one of the morals of the movie and it comes across as very forced. Mays plays the expecting mother who is well on her way to being very motherly.
Hank Azaria plays the villain of the film, Gargamel, and he makes it a very close competition between who is more cartoonish: The Smurfs or Gargamel. His performance is the one redeeming thing in the movie because it seems his winking at the camera often enough to point out that he is in the Smurfs movie and he almost knows its bad but he is having as much as he can with it. His best bit is anytime he comes across a mist rising out of the sewer he points out to himself and his cat that it looks very mysterious walking out of a white mist. He almost is always in conversation with his cat, Azrael, who is computer animated but made to look as much as a real cat as possible which was done well. So if you want to see Hank Azaria acting like a fool but being well aware of it, well The Smurfs might work for you.
The biggest fault of this movie is it overlooks the biggest, and basically only, character development of the film in the character Clumsy Smurf, who as you can tell by his name is clumsy and screws everything up, and semi-spoiler alert redeems himself in the end, and its celebrated but not to the extent you would expect. Plus they totally miss a great setup in the film where its discussed on how Smurfs get their names, and from the conversation had between the Smurfs and Mays and Harris' characters you would think Clumsy Smurf would be renamed upon redeeming himself, but it doesn't happen, for me personally left the ending of the film underwhelming.
So overall, I didn't like this movie, and not because it is a kids movie, because kids movies can be done really well, like Toy Story 3 and How To Train Your Dragon, and The Smurfs doesn't even have half the quality of those films. The writing is shoddy, the characters are very flat, and other than Hank Azaria's self aware character performance, there is really nothing enjoyable about this movie.
My overall grade for this movie: D
Until Next Time...Stay safe folks.