Films/Theater Reviews โ€” 28 July 2011
The Smurfs: A Movie Review

When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble out from their magical world and into ours- in fact, smack dab in the middle of Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down. - Columbia Pictures

It may be the middle of 2011, but eighties nostalgia appears to be at an all time high- from the clothes that many of us wear to the many references that have been resurrected into our social lexicon. The same can be said for the former Saturday morning cartoon favorite “The Smurfs.” They are back, but this time they are receiving the big screen, 3-D treatment.

Without giving away too many plot points, the film opens up in the Smurfs’ magical village, in what I would call a very impressive display of 3-D technology. And just like in the original animated series, they are singing and dancing the all too familar Smurfs theme song. But in an attempt to keep the film as contemporary as possible, many of the Smurfs talk with twenty first century slang. Look out for scene later in the movie when Smurfette voiced by Katy Perry, sings a line from one of her hit songs.

While the Smurfs are preparing for a festival they are attacked by their adversary Gargamel and transported with him to New York City. Once in town they inadvertently invade the lives of Patrick and Grace Winslow, played by Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Jayma Mays (Glee), respectively. The Smurfs seek the couples’ help, to return to their own world. From there, you guessed it, eighty six minutes of slapstick, gross-outs, and comedic misunderstandings.

One of the best performances in the movie comes from Hank Azaria, who voices Gargamel, the longtime nemesis of the Smurfs and the movie’s villain. The LocalBozo team has stated in the past that Azaria is one of the greatest character actors of our time and in “The Smurfs,” Azaria flawlessly emulates this classic cartoon villain, while at the same time making it his own.

Even though I believe “The Smurfs” has a decent mix for both children and adults, it certainly has its fair share of problems, much of which is a result of its sloppily conceived supporting characters. We love Sofia Vergara on ABC’s “Modern Family,” but here she just appears to be out of place and a bit underutilized.

Vergara portrays Neil Patrick Harris’ character’s boss Odile Anjelou, the owner of a major cosmetics company. At one point in the film you are led to believe she will become a major villain, but this storyline is casually ditched and her character returns to the background. The same odd casting decision can be said about placing fashion magnet Tim Gunn in the movie altogether. Gunn plays the role of Henri, Angelou’s right hand man. It appears Gunn was cast for the sole purpose of spouting his stock catch phrases every time he appeared onscreen, which we deem to be insulting, and quickly became tired.

Sure, the 2011 theatrical version of “The Smurfs” has its problems. It is often hard to translate a product that was popular over twenty years ago and convert it into modern culture. But with a handful of solid performances, self referential jokes, and a truck load of physical gags, this is a picture that both children and their parents can all get something out of. The Smurfs hit 3-D screens everywhere tomorrow.

- Alan Smithee

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