Featuring the Voices of: Demi Lovato, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Mandy Patinkin, Rainn Wilson, Julia Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Gordon Ramsey, Jake Johnson, Tituss Burgess, Gabriel Iglesias, Jeff Dunham, Kelly Asbury.
Director: Kelly Asbury
Rating: PG (for some mild action and rude humor.)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Kerner Entertainment Company, LStar Capital, Sony Pictures Animation, Wanda Pictures, and Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Releasing.
Written by: Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon; based on the comic book series “The Smurfs” by Peyo.
After two live action/animation hybrid films in 2011 and 2013, it is now apparently time to reboot The Smurfs franchise for a whole new audience of parents and children alike. When the 2013 film made less than half of the box office grosses of the 2011 offering, Sony and Columbia Pictures cancelled a third film and put everything on ice for awhile. Now it’s 2017 and the Smurfs are back, completely animated, and starring in an odd little movie that occasionally breaks the fourth wall and flirts with the idea of presenting itself as a documentary at the beginning and the end.
If that makes you cock your head, you’re not alone, as very early on it is hard to peg just what kind of movie Smurfs: The Lost Village is trying to be. At times it feels episodic, and at just under 90 minutes, the movie feels like we just opted to binge watch a handful of episodes of some new Smurfs television series.
Narrated by the inimitable Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), we are introduced to all the main Smurfs in a hyperkinetic editing montage introducing us to Smurf Village. A personal favorite was Nosy Smurf (Kelly Asbury), who walks around with binoculars and utters the wonderfully unsettling… “So…uh…what are we doing over here?”
Tee hee hee.
Writers Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon place the focus with Smurfette (Demi Lovato), positioned at the center of a film about finding community and a place to fit in. Different than her peers, she was built from a block of clay by villainous wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson), she understandably struggles in being the only female Smurf in the village. Gargamel is unhinged in his belief that by capturing all Smurfs, he can boil them in a large cauldron and drain their essence, making him the most powerful person in, like, the whole wide world.
When the wizard and his trusty cat, Azrael, and a dim-witted flock of birds, descend upon Smurf Village, Smurfette escapes with Clumsy (Jack McBrayer), Brainy (Danny Pudi), and Hefty (Joe Manganiello) and set out to try and find a place on a map known as Smurfy Grove.
Curiosity abounds! Does another Smurf compound really exist? Who and what resides there? Will they finally find a way to vanquish Gargamel once and for all? And why isn’t Papa Smurf more helpful? Like seriously, couldn’t he do more to protect his people?
Truth be told, anyone with half a brain knows where Smurfs: The Lost Village ends up. Refraining from spoiling anything, I will say that this movie is Predictable Smurf the whole way through. Asbury, also serving as director of the film, populates his screen with bold colors and wonderfully created landscapes which make this all easy to watch. And no worries Moms, Dads, Uncles, Aunts, siblings, cousins, etc. – Plenty of puns and elementary school zingers occur to make the 7-year-old in all of us chuckle here and there.
If anything, Smurfs: The Lost Village reminds us that we should celebrate the uniqueness in everyone and a sense of togetherness is important. No one wants to truly be alone and if children take away a message of inclusiveness after seeing Smurfs named Hefty, Brainy, Table-Eating, Paranoid, and countless other descriptors, all residing together, in a place where they are all equally accepted, then let’s give these Smurfs the benefit of the doubt.
But let’s also not get ahead of ourselves…Smurfs: The Lost Village is just not that great of a movie. The film is passable, but also reinvents these diminutive little beings as a new distraction or novelty for kids to add to the mix of distractions and novelties which currently fill their days and weekends.
Gone are the days when kids mass-collected and even traded their Smurf figurines for other kids’ Smurf figurines. It’s true: in the 1980’s, the Smurfs were a huge, huge deal. Now, the magic just feels time capsuled, stuck in a bygone era where little blue Smurfs made more sense. Though some families will perk their heads up for this innocent and thoughtful tale, a lot of kids and families won’t give this a passing glance. With so much flying at kids nowadays, Smurfs: The Lost Village just cannot quite stand tall enough on it’s own two Smurfy feet to make much of an impact.
SHOULD I SEE IT?
- Fans of The Smurfs will be happy to see the movie brought back to something similar to what they remember from years gone by.
- Nosy Smurf. 15 collective seconds of screen time I will love forever and always.
- Smurfs: The Lost Village looks terrific from an animation standpoint and it does retain a great message of inclusiveness.
- Harmless. Completely suitable for kids of all ages.
- Largely lackluster and occasionally amusing, the film feels like a television show for much, if not all, of its 89 minutes.
- Even though it looks great, Smurfs: The Lost Village feels time capsuled a bit and it is hard to see where this story and these characters fit in today’s marketplace.
- No live action actors gumming things up, which is an improvement, but the story is obvious and predictable, the voiceover work is largely run-of-the-mill, and only a few moments really rise above tedium.