Thursday, 23 August 2012

The Smurfs (2011)

Now, to be fair, I can't remember what The Smurfs were like in their original form. I can't recall the old comics that they appeared in or even the old cartoons. But I do recall enjoying their antics. Having just seen, and been extremely irritated by, The Smurfs, I can only assume that they appealed to me because I was younger and sitting in the target demographic. I may like to stay young at heart but that doesn't always guarantee that I'll enjoy childish things as much as I used to, especially if they're presented in such a poor way.

As well as the little blue folk there is a montage or two, an adult couple all too easily roped in to the proceedings (played by Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays - two people deserving of much better), far too many words replaced by the word "smurf" (e.g. "where the smurf are we?"), an incompetent villain played by Hank Azaria, a number of life lessons and one or two musical moments that are even worse than the usual hits shoehorned into these products. There's also an opening sequence that screams out "look at what we did so that you would be forced to drag the kids to see this in 3D, this is shiny 3D stuff, shiny and 3D and in no way improves the movie in any way but DOES allow everyone to make more money by charging you extra to see it in 3D!!!!!"

The story, as slight as it is, sees the smurfs ending up in New York, pursued by the dastardly Gargamel (Hank Azaria). The little blue folk, inevitably, disrupt the lives of a couple of adults (NPH and Mays) while one half of the couple is also trying to keep his boss (Sofia Vergara) happy and become a better partner for his loved one.

The vocal cast here includes Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf, Alan Cumming, Katy Perry as the lone Smurfette, Anton Yelchin, George Lopez and some others. They do their bit, with Cumming providing a comedy Scottish brogue that sounds horribly fake even though he IS Scottish.

The script, by a number of people (J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick and David Ronn), does have one or two decent lines making it clear that it knows how ridiculous the whole thing is but then everything is undone by the by-the-numbers big moments that audiences have already seen, and seen done 10 x better, in many, many other movies.

Director Raja Gosnell does what is asked of him but it's a shame that he couldn't have done something ever so slightly better with the material. A bit more sly wit wouldn't have gone amiss and the movie feels a bit too long, even at just 103 minutes.

Of course, kids will enjoy this a lot more than I did and any children reading this (why the hell would you read this? get outside and get doing kiddie things like playing football and/or vandalising empty homes) should add two or three to my final rating.

I won't be rushing to see the sequel that's already underway and I don't ever want to see this again but it'll please some people. I'd strongly advise most parents, however, to try and distract the kids with something/anything else instead.


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