By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Five Beers) –
Pursued by vicious wizard Gargamel, who is bent on their destruction, a tribe of blue people fight for survival against seemingly insurmountable odds. They pass through a portal to another dimension and find themselves in the middle of Central Park in New York City. Aware that they have entered a place they know nothing about, and hope of returning home quickly fading, they seek council with Doogie Howser and form an alliance.
How can something so wrong feel so right?
The movie does have its share of moments that resonate in the nostalgic soul. Speaking as one who grew up on the cartoon, I can safely say that they handled the translation to live action and CGI quite well. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays are satisfyingly wide-eyed as the couple who meet the Smurfs, and begin to doubt their sanity. Hank Azaria manages some humorous moments as Gargamel, especially when in conversation with his companion, Azrael the Cat. Also, the joke about Passive-Aggressive Smurf was pretty good.
The movie unfortunately falls victim to the same flaws that plagued Hop earlier this year. The filmmakers seem unsure which characters should be focused on and developed. They spend so much time on Neil Patrick Harris’s character that often it feels like they had a script for a romantic comedy and just CGed in some Smurfs to make it marketable. And of course they have to give him a moment where he dramatically shouts at the Smurfs for ruining his life, only to have him realize the error of his ways five minutes later. This is a cliché which is more used up than jokes about Paris Hilton’s promiscuity.
While much humor in the film’s second act does derive from the clash of Human and Blue people cultures, the fact is that these hijinks often become repetitive. It doesn’t help that aside from Poppa, none of the other Smurfs are anything more than two-dimensional stereotypes. It plays on the Seven Dwarves formula of having each character’s personality driven by a single trait. Take Clumsy Smurf, for instance, who exists only to serve as a series of derps.
Herpy derp sold separately…
The sequence where the Smurfs visit FAO Schwartz contained more product placement in a children’s movie than Mac and Me. Product placement isn’t even the problem, it is the fact that the sequence seems to exist for little reason other than to provide toys for children to look at and pester their parents about. Big was filmed in the same building 24 years ago and didn’t have anywhere near this level of commercial pandering, and that is coming from a movie where the main character gets to play toys for a living.
It seems that in an attempt to make the movie edgy, the writers just had the Smurfs blurt obscenities concealed behind the creature’s knack for replacing random words with “smurf”. This is an old idea which has been used in countless parodies, and it is only understandable that they’d use it to its fullest. But even this wears on the viewer after ninety minutes. Maybe if the screenwriters spent a bit more time coming up with an original story, and less time acting like a bunch of smurfing retards, we’d have something more compelling to watch…
Coming in 2012: Avatar, the last Smurfbender
If you grew up on the show, there is enough to get you through it without feeling blue.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever clumsy Smurf does something stupid
Take a Drink: anytime Azrael laughs
Down a Shot: for each instance of product placement
Down another Shot: whenever the smurf song plays in your head after the movie ends