Up the Smurfin’ Creek Without a Paddle
I really wanted to see today’s movie, but only because of how bad I expected it to be. When I saw it on RedBox, I says to myself, “I gotta see them shits.” And I did. We’re all already excited to hear about it, so let’s dive right in. This movie is The Smurfs, written by J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, and David Ronn, directed by Raja Gosnell, and starring Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria, and Sofia Vergara, and vocally starring Jonathan Winters, Anton Yelchin, Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, Paul Reubens, Kenan Thompson, Jeff Foxworthy, John Oliver, Wolfgang Puck, B.J. Novak, Tom Kane, and Frank Welker.
The Smurfs are preparing for a festival. Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) has a vision that Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin) smurfs everything up and getting all the Smurfs captured by their greatest enemy, the wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria). Well, Clumsy does indeed smurf everything up, causing a small group of the Smurfs to be transported from … wherever the smurf they live to New York City. Along with Clumsy, Papa Smurf, Smurfette (Katy Perry), Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez), Brainy Smurf (Fred Armisen), Gutsy Smurf (Alan Cumming), and even Gargamel and Gargamel’s mostly CG cat, Azrael (Frank Welker). Shortly after arriving in New York City, the Smurfs’ lives become entangled with a husband and pregnant wife combo of Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) Winslow. Patrick has just been promoted by his boss, Odile (Sofia Vergara), and Grace is concerned that he will pay more attention to work than to their upcoming baby. While finding their way back to their land, the Smurfs will most likely try to solve that problem as well.
This is not a film that I can recommend on any level. It’s not the worst thing I’ve watched, but it just seems pointless and disappointing. Pointless because I’m sure nobody was aching for the return of the Smurfs. I vaguely remember watching them when I was young, but I don’t even have any real affection for them. Kids may find it somewhat entertaining, but they also have no love for the Smurfs. At the age that they would probably enjoy this movie, they’d probably enjoy watching screen savers of shapes moving on the screen as well. And I would say the movie is disappointing because it seems to lend credence to the argument that Hollywood will not roll the dice on a new idea anymore, so we will instead get lots of warmed over smurf from the 80’s. The story of the movie is pretty basic and unsurprising. The Smurfs have their own little adventure going on, and the Winslow couple has their whole upcoming baby thing. The Winslow storyline is mainly about Patrick being worried about not being a good dad and Grace is worried that he spends too much time at work. Patrick is also worried about losing his job because of his demanding boss. Obviously, the Smurfs help take care of all these problems and all is left right in the world when they leave. There’s also an odd little story line between Odile and Gargamel where he uses his magic to make her mother young and Odile, as a cosmetics company owner, wants him to be able to do that for her paying customers. They kind of forget to wrap up this story. The Smurf’s storyline is pretty much driven by Clumsy (or as they should’ve named him, PlotDevicey). He’s sad that his clumsiness gets the Smurfs into bad situations and he wishes he could be a hero, but there’s no y on the end of that so he’s not allowed. As with most kids movies, the humor is generally immature and slapsticky, but also at times bordering on too mature for their intended audience, but not smart enough to be able to claim it was to entertain the parents. Some of it is the Smurfs saying inappropriate things but exchanging “smurf” for the dirty thing they were saying (a joke they make far too often and it gets irritating quickly). There was also a point where Gargamel pees in a vase he thinks is a chamber pot, which just comes off a crude. The only jokes that kind of worked for me were when Neil Patrick Harris was commenting about how the Smurf society doesn’t make any sense, referencing how Smurfette’s the only girl, how their names are all their personalities, and how they use the word smurf to take the place of any random words.
The look of the movie is fine and caused no real complaints. The time in the Smurf’s world is very colorful and “imaginative” (or at least it was whenever the Smurfs were creative, but you can’t really take the imaginative credit when you’re just using someone else’s imagination), but the time in that world is brief. New York City is a much cleaner version of NYC than what I imagine the real NYC looks like, but the transition is not quite as stark as the characters acted like it was. The CG Smurfs themselves look fine and the interaction with the environment is realistic. Azrael the cat is kind of hit and miss. I’ve vocalized my hatred for the fact that some movies think the fact that they CAN make animals look like they’re talking is reason enough to do so and call that a movie, but this movie doesn’t rely too heavily on that, especially since the cat doesn’t really talk, but it’s face is animated in a way to give it a little personality. It works sometimes, but they also use the cat to make jokes that are perhaps inappropriate for children, like when the cat was sitting on Gargamel’s head and he remarked about it being a boy (basically saying “Azrael, your balls are on my head”) and a part where the cat was grooming its nether-regions and Gargamel remarked about the cat needing a mint (because of how his nuts tasted, I assume). I guess it could be expected that the comedy would get a little blue in a Smurf movie. Yeah, Robert! Solid joke!
The voice cast performed admirably. My problem was never with their voices, but more with the lame, unfunny, and sometimes crude things they said. Yes, even Katy Perry did not grate on my nerves (I was as shocked as you). I still don’t really understand the concept of putting such people into voice roles. Especially with someone like Katy Perry. She’s a mediocre singer that some people like for whatever reason, but the majority of her appeal is how she looks. You get no benefits from how she looks when you’re only putting her voice in the body of the smurf dumpster of Smurfville. (I’m not calling her a cum dumpster because she’s voiced by Katy Perry, but she must’ve become the smurf toy for the 99 male Smurfs because she’s the only female). And that being the case, I’m sure you could get someone to do just as good of a job, or a better one, out of a professional voice actor, and it would cost a whole lot less. People that go to see a movie because someone they like does a voice in it really need to take a look in the mirror. Neil Patrick Harris did fine. I found Jayma Mays to be very cute, and Sofia Vergara to be very hot. But I didn’t like seeing Sofia Vergara playing such a bitchy role. It made me not like her as much. The only other place I’ve seen her is on Modern Family, where I love her. I normally like Hank Azaria a lot, but he was REALLY hamming it up in this movie as Gargamel. And the Smurfs had their own person that was trying too hard in George Lopez. There were parts where it seemed like they just forgot to turn off the microphones and he was just rambling on, to no great effect.
I’m comfortable telling you all that you can skip seeing the Smurfs. Kids MAY enjoy it, but they’ll like anything. Take them to a Pixar movie so you don’t want to slit your wrists while watching it. Not that this movie is bad enough to cause that, it’s just not very interesting. There are maybe two amusing parts in the movie, and it would be a lot more tolerable if that smurfing word replacement thing wasn’t beating you over the head. If you don’t have kids, there’s probably nothing I could say that would talk you into seeing this movie (and I certainly have no desire to try). And if you have kids, try to steer them towards something better, but you will probably make it through if you must to shut them up. The Smurfs gets “I hated it … so much less than I expected” out of “Don’t get me wrong, I still hate it.”
Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!