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The Smurfs Review

After getting voluntarily
suckered into a viewing of the update of the 1981 television series, I can say
that my soul does remain intact, but I am now also privy to a whole new meaning
of the term “blue-balled.” Despite exceeding my horrendously low expectations
for this CGI/live-action kidpic, The
Smurfs
is still very much in the middling vein of recent family fare made
available — essentially everything not produced by Disney or DreamWorks (a sad
state of things it would seem).

As far as the 3D goes,
things started out on a figurative and literal high note with the lovable blue
creatures racing on the backs of birds through the sky and amidst the branches
in their magical forest. From then on the medium becomes more than perfunctory,
not to mention at times seeming almost blurry (I’m not talking about the usual
motion blur but rather the scenes looked legitimately out of focus. I
continually lifted my uncomfortable specs to see if it was something wrong with
my set). Alas, it was just crappy 3D.

smurfs
The relative success of
this movie (or should I say what stops it from becoming an intolerable smear of
blue excrement on the big screen) hinges on three pillars: self-reflection,
acting and empty laughs. The first stems from the fact that attention is often
called to the silliness of the premise (chiefly how the visitors use “Smurf”
for every other verb). The baby-blue gang also constantly sing their “Smurf
Song” much to the understandable annoyance of everyone around them. This is the
kind of thing that could have made The
Smurfs
a self-aware fun time instead of smut with flashes of inspiration.

The second saving grace is
Hank Azaria as Gargamel, an evil wizard played by a man proven to be a
real-life wizard at elevating crap to a near art form. Gargamel and the real/CGI-enhanced cat, Azreal cracked me up on more than one occasion in
spite of myself. Elsewhere, it’s nice to see Neil Patrick
Harris getting work, as mundane as it may be, and The Smurfs are cute enough to
entertain the little ones with expectedly rampant slapstick that’s otherwise harmless
fluff.

smurfs2
The voice cast and human cast
are truly of the superstar variety and include — in addition to those already
mentioned — TV’s Sofia Vergara from Modern
Family
, the adorable Jayma Mays from Glee, comedic veteran Jonathon Winters, Katy Perry, Alan
Cumming, Anton Yelchin, Jeff Foxworthy, Paul Reubens and George Lopez. All do
fine work despite being underwritten and supplied with inane dialogue. On a
side note, I also must applaud those who had to interact with these nonexistent
foils; a GCI bear or cat is one thing, but a bunch of scampering miniatures is
another challenge entirely to pull off spatially.

I have mostly scraped
together the small miracles of The Smurfs
because frankly there is equally enough to hate, if not more, and from the trailers
you can surmise all of the shortcomings with ease. The abundance of slapstick
once against grinds my gears the most, especially when you have a cast
assembled that could provide laughs without the need for crotch shots. “Smurfs
2” is already on the way, so what point is there on pining for the glory days
of accessible, wholesome fun. If this is what we have to work with, we could
sadly do far worse.

Rating: 5.0/10

The Smurfs
Directed by Raja Gosnell
Written by J. David Stern
Starring Neil Patrick
Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Anton Yelchin

Rating
5.0

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