July 31, 2011

Movie Review: The Smurfs (2011)

This is a movie I had strong reservations about seeing. It is true that I see a lot of movies in the theater, but there are limits Eden to my thirst for film. One of those areas of contention is when pieces of my childhood are involved. As much as I like to see homage paid to nostalgic elements of my past, I am often left discouraged by the arbitrary decisions that are made and this self-destructive need to drag them kicking and screaming into a modern age. I understand a need to somewhat modernize the properties, but you do not need to take it too far, the use of current techniques is often enough (just look at the successful Winnie the Pooh).

Well, as fate would have it, I could not stay away from subjecting myself to the Smurfs on the big screen. I went in not thinking how good it may be, but hoping that it would not be as bad as I was fearing. Knowing that they were taking the Smurfs out of the enchanted forest and dumping them into modern day New York City is almost too much. Why? Why do you need to do that? Are the writers so creatively bankrupt that they could not come up with a story that keeps them in their magical village? Is there a fear that no one child could identify with a Smurf in its natural habitat? I don't know what the problem is, but here we are.

As the movie opens, we are introduced to the Smurfs in their village in the enchanted forest. They are all singing a happy song and going about their personality and name specified jobs. However, things go wrong when Clumsy accidentally leads the villainous Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael to the hidden village. This causes a panic and in the hurry to get away a small group of Smurfs end up getting sucked through a vortex that deposit them in Central Park. Gargamel and his cat follow close behind.

What follows is a story of Smurfs looking to get home and an evil wizard hot on their tail. On top of that there is the human story of Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays). One is a workaholic the other is pregnant with their first child. Now they are overrun with little blue figurative constructs. In true family film fashion we get the slapstick tale of good and bad paired with the "touching" story of people learning what it is they really want.

I found that while I did not like the movie, I did not hate it either. I also realized that The Smurfs was a rehash of Enchanted. The flow of the story is early identical. Sure, some of the driven deals are different, but the general structure and use of characters is essentially the same. The difference is in the execution, Enchanted felt fresh, and had some good performances. The Smurfs felt like something that really did not need to be, a betrayal of the source. Yes, I am cool with adaptations and changes from the source, so long as there is still a respect for the source. In this case it felt cold and calculated in the way things were changed to modernize in an effort to connect with modern kids. It is just flat out miscalculated.

There are a couple of humorous jokes spaced throughout. I thought they did a good job of bringing Azrael to life. I also liked Harris, he seemed to recognize the absurdity of it all and has some good line delivery. I liked the short segment in the Smurf village, it should have all been here. I liked the reference to Smurfette's betrayal and how weird it is for all of them o be living in the village together. I liked the brief introductions of some of the other Smurfs who don't have major roles. There is also a supremely creepy segment towards the end, if you have seen it you know what I am talking about. It seemed really out of character, but I liked it.

I don't like the Smurfs in the real world. I don't like the overly simplistic take on the story (although that was likely unavoidable). I don't like some of the voices, in particular Papa and Clumsy do not sound right at all.

What else can you say this was not made for any artistic purpose. This is a movie made to fill a scheduling hole for family entertainment whose goal is to trade on franchise familiarity. I had no intention of being like the source or even capturing that atmosphere. The opposite of what was done with the recent Winnie the Pooh movie that did a great job of capturing the spirit of the original.

Oh well. You may not hate it but you will feel bad about enjoying any of it.

Not Recommended.

Related Posts with Thumbnails


Post a Comment