Film Review: The Smurfs

The Smurfs is an adventure film aimed squarely at a young audience. Whilst the film should satisfy its target demographic, it is a shame that there is not more to appeal to older viewers who grew up watching the television cartoon.

Hoping to find the secret location of the Smurfs’ village, evil wizard Gargamel sets his plan in motion. As the Smurfs run to escape, they tumble out of their village and into Manhattan. With Gargamel close on their heels, the Smurfs must find their way back to their home, but they need the help of their new companions…

The Smurfs follows a pretty predictable narrative formula, typical of the family adventure genre. Given its aim at young children, the film lacks any real sense of peril. The film is still very watchable, but it plods along more than it grabs the viewer’s attention.

The film is schmaltzy in places, but this is almost inevitable given its style. The only real problem with the film is the lack of laughs. The Smurfs does features some amusing moments. However, these are simply not as frequent as they should be. Considering the formulaic nature of Raja Gosnell’s film, it really needs more effective jokes. Whilst the mild humour may please young children, parents and other older viewers would be more entertained if the comedy was more consistent and more successful.

The film features a nice nod to Peyo, creator of the Smurfs. Although this is pleasing touch, perhaps more could have been made of the Smurfs as mythical creatures. After some initial disbelief, their presence is readily accepted by the humans they encounter. The film may have worked better if it had been more self-reflexive and played up the Smurfs appearance as fictional media characters.

The scenes set in the Smurfs’ village offer sumptuous visuals. The effects are good overall. They have a cartoon-like quality, but this works well within the context of the film, and given the televisual history of the Smurfs. The 3D is used lightly for the most part; it is inoffensive but perhaps not worth the price of the uplift.

Hank Azaria makes a devilishly good Gargamel. He injects a lot of fun into the movie. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays are suitably cast as Patrick and Grace. Katy Perry voices Smurfette well, but George Lopez and Alan Cumming can grate rather voicing Grouchy and Gutsy.

The Smurfs answers that age-old question of why there is only one female Smurf. Other than this, adults may be a bit unimpressed with the film, but young kids should be entertained.