In the late 1950s, a cartoonist in Belgium by the name of Peyo made a comic strip that featured small blue creatures. When the United States of America caught a glimpse of these comic strips from Belgium, American newspapers translated the strips, and called the little blue creatures “Smurfs”. Then, in the early 1980s, animation pioneers William Hanna and Joseph Barbera brought the Smurfs to American television, where it became a huge success. Then, in 1983, we got a Smurfs movie entitled “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute” where it became a huge success. Now with the age of computers, Hollywood has delivered a more digital version of the cartoon in a movie simply known as “The Smurfs”. How does it look and hold up to the original creations of Peyo? Not smurfing much. The movie is a really bad mix between live-action and animation that’s sure to please kids, but not so much adults. Hollywood tries to make a modern Smurfs movie, but fails miserably.
The plot of the movie centers on the title characters known as the Smurfs. The leader of the Smurfs is Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters), who looks like a blue Santa Claus, and he must keep things in balance at the time for the festival of the blue moon. But the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) tries to capture these Smurfs for their magical power. Luckily, some of the Smurfs, including Grumpy Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Gutsy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf, and Smurfette (the only female Smurf) escape Gargamel and they fall through a portal that lands them in New York City. Here, the Smurfs meet Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and with him, the Smurfs must try to find a way home. Also, Gargamel comes through the portal with his cat Azrael (Frank Welker) to try and catch the Smurfs to let his evil plan fall through.
“The Smurfs” is not a terrible film, but it is just bad. The movie fails at almost every level. While I was watching the film, I found several mistakes that made the movie almost very hard to sit through.
The first problem I had with the movie was that the story was wretched. We’ve seen the scenario done better in other films, mainly time travel movies, where the main group of characters are from one time period and end up in the future. Now Hollywood is doing this with the Smurfs? You’ve got to be kidding me.
The second problem that I had with the film is that the casting was just poor. For the live-action part, Neil Patrick Harris was not convincing and not believable as the main lead human character. For the animation segments, George Lopez and Katy Perry did not fit their roles as Grumpy Smurf and Smurfette. In fact, the writers of this film actually managed to sneak in a line from one Katy Perry’s songs “I Kissed a Girl” making an obvious pop culture reference that we do not need.
The third problem that I had with the film is that if you look at the animation done on the Smurfs on a TV, it looks pretty good. But when see the animation on the big screen, it looks kind of creepy. In fact, Raja Gosnell, the director behind 2002’s “Scooby-Doo” adaptation, and its squeal “Scooby-Doo 2: Monster’s Unleashed”, could have done a better job at directing this movie.
But my main problem with the film is the pacing. At 1 hour and 33 minutes, the movie felt very quick and almost jumbled in some areas; this holds true especially at the middle of the film. “The Smurfs” had a serious editing problem. If the movie had been shortened by 10 minutes, then it would have worked.
Speaking of things working, is there anything that I liked about the movie? Well, I did enjoy the opening scene showcasing the Smurf village. I also liked Jonathan Winters’ performance of Papa Smurf, being that his was the most believable of all the Smurfs. But the big positive note that made the movie work was Hank Azaria’s performance as Gargamel. His acting in this movie was bad, no doubt about that, but it was so funny to watch you can’t help but laugh at it. Other than that, “The Smurfs” really has nothing going for it.
Overall, “The Smurfs” is a poor effort from Hollywood to cash in on a valuable franchise. To me, there wasn’t enough potential to keep me interested. As far as summer movies go, this one smurfed up big time.