Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Smurfs Review

The Smurfs franchise has really done nothing new since the 80s.  So the film makers had the challenge of making a movie that would appeal to both the nostalgia of my generation and today's kids.  While they may not have hit a home run with the Smurfs, I think they did a decent job and made a solid movie.  It is definitely the best movie with blue people that I have seen in the past year and a half because it is definitely better than Avatar.

First, the acting.  Both Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris are very solid in their roles.  This is especially true of Azaria.  He hit the Gargamel character spot on with his role.  His interactions with Azrael are perfect.  He stays true to the original character while making it very fun for kids to watch.  Harris' character is completely new so he didn't have anything to build on.  The character itself was a bit weak and without depth.  But it's a kids movie so that's OK and Harris played it very well using his strong likability.  The voiceovers, while nothing to write home about, were decent throughout with one exception.  Having George Lopez do the voice of Grouchy just didn't seem right.  I can't put my finger on why.  It just didn't fit.

Overall, the production quality was good.  The CGI in the Smurf village and forest was well done and looked quite cartoony without looking drawn on paper.  In this respect, it was modernized quite well.  But when the Smurfs were in New York (which is most of the movie), the green screening becomes quite obvious.  I know it is hard to make it all look real but there are times when the Smurfs look a little too added on to the actors and sets.  Maybe I have come to expect too much from CGI though.

I really only have two problems with the movie.  First, I know it's a fantasy story and they need to bend reality a lot.  But that doesn't mean that you should just break rules and reality for the sake of a cheap laugh if it doesn't serve any purpose for the story.  There's no way Gargamel would wind up in maximum security prison for taking a leaf blower and engaging in mischief in an FAO Schwarz.  There was nothing in that scene that necessitated the maximum security prison or other inmates and it should have been scrapped.  Second, Gutsy Smurf.  I know that they were trying to create a quirky, trendy character that would provide a lot of laughs etc. and make it fun for the kids and also provide better merchandising possibilities.  But this could have easily been done by utilizing an original Smurf in Hefty.   He could have provided just as many jokes and we would have been spared a tacked-on Scottish Smurf that was just unnecessary.  It would have been able to appease kids and purists alike.  Gutsy's jokes were only "funny" because he was Scottish (that makes him say, "mind the gap" when jumping onto the subway.  They say that in the United Kingdom.  That's funny, right?  Right?)  (But I'm beginning to think I'm the only Smurfs purist out there.)

Thos two fairly minor issues aside, see it.  If you are a fan of the comics and old cartoon, it's close enough to be entertaining.  If you aren't a fan, it's still a good distraction with some good laughs.  And it's still decent for kids.

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