While you might be expecting The Smurfs (2011) to be an entertaining, funny and witty (as children-targeted movies can indeed be) movie, it takes only a few minutes of watching it to realize it is none of that. While the premise was decent (for a “Hollywood” movie mind you), the execution is poor, personality-less and unoriginal. They did trick us into staying seated (I honestly wanted to leave when they cornily throw Smurfette in the air as she sings, 5 minutes in or so) with the promise of the one and only Neil Patrick Harris, who could easily carry this movie somewhere nice and enjoyable. But he didn’t. This is the filmmakers’ biggest mistake. They had the talent of Harris and the likability of Jayma Mays, but they didn’t use one drop of it. Instead, their lines (along with the smurfs’) were mindless, extremely generic, and terribly annoying (they made beautiful Sofía Vergara, trying to convince Gargamel to work with her, repeat the same phrase in different ways so many times I lost count. Hello time-filler). The dialogue was completely useless to the story development; you could watch the movie without sound and it wouldn’t change a thing (and if you’re thinking it would be more boring this way, you’re wrong; it’s impossible for this movie to get any more boring). The main story – the smurfs are stuck in New-York and need to smurf a blue moon to go back – reaches its conclusion when they find the spell to smurf a blue moon supposedly encrypted in a comic book of the smurfs (what the frack?!) The side-story of Harris and Mays was just unnecessary garbage that we’ve all already seen in 30 other (probably bad) movies, and it was so bloody corny I wanted to rip my eyes out. The smurfs were one big embarrassment that rendered the movie even more incoherent (WHY didn’t Papa go in the pipe with the other smurfs? He didn’t win them any time, he just made the damn movie last another useless 30 minutes. My dad says it’s a reference to Gandalf turning back to fight the Balrog, I say it’s because the writers were out of already crappy ideas to develop the story so they decided a smurf would just randomly decide to stop moving for no reason and get captured by Gargamel) and brought corniness to an all new level. On to Gargamel. Now I am quite concerned about Gargamel’s real motives (before he is offered fortune and fame), because really, why does he want to become more powerful? So he can rule over his cat? Speaking of Azraël, the scene where smurfette joyfully mutilates his ear still makes me cringe. Who in their right mind would put that in a children’s movie?! The animations were OK, but the smurfs looked like they were wearing grey sweatpants and their design was way too “humanized” (muscles), making them look quite gross. The decor was pretty nice. As for the subtle “reinforcement” messages in this movie, off the top of my head: Mays did not consider co-sleeping and will let her child sleep alone in the dark away from her (the smurfs set up a crib in Harris’ workspace); smurfs know what butter is, which means they manage to needlessly exploit animals for their own pleasure even if it’s physically impossible for them (this one might be Peyo’s fault); throwing a cat around is something kids should find funny; visuals of corpses, cow secretions and an hen egg (i.e. not vegan-friendly); and so on.
I don’t recommend this movie for children (the younglings in the audience seldom gave sign of life, which is not the case with really entertaining movies like Pirates of the Carribean), especially not with the great animation movies that came out in 2010 and this year (like this, this and this), unless you want to bore them to sleep.
Good news though (if you’re a sadist)! Next up for cinematic massacre are The Muppets (2011).
This movie gets 1 llama out of 10.