Animated movies are fun. Not the overly computerized junk (I HATE Anime) but the animated movies that can keep everyone engaged and hold the attention of all age groups. One of my favorite animated movies ever was The Little Mermaid. My wife still laughs at me when it is on because I know the words to most of the songs and sing them along with the movie (Les Poissons being my favorite). Movies get even more engaging for all ages when you can mix animation with live action. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is probably the best example of this. While the antics for Roger are nice for the kids, the acting of Bob Hoskins and the “assets” of Jessica Rabbit kept many adults glued to the screen. I bring this up because there is a “right” way to do animation and animation/live action hybrids and a “wrong” way. The Smurfs? WRONG!
The Smurfs follows the same overall outline as the popular TV show from the 80’s. Pappa Smurf is the elder Smurf of the Smurf Village. When Gargamel (Hank Azaria) finds the secret city of the Smurfs he attempts to capture them in order to harness the power of their magical Smurf Essence. When a small group, while hiding from Gargamel, runs into a nearby cave they are accidently sucked into a vortex (courtesy of the magical Blue Moon) and transported to New York City. The Smurfs encounter, by way of Clumsy Smurf falling into a box, Patrick and Grace Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays respectively). When the Smurfs begin to influence the lives of Patrick and Grace, in both good and bad ways, the Winslow’s are forced to do some soul searching to see what is truly important in their lives. When Gargamel manages to pose a serious threat to the Smurfs, everyone, including their new human friends, must rise to the occasion to try to defeat the evil sorcerer.
I have to admit that kids seem to really enjoy this movie. The theater often irrupted in laughter from those that are not tall enough to ride Thunder Mountain at Disney Land. The older crowd? Very different story. The movie did manage to pick up a bit towards the end, and the always entertaining Neil Patrick Harris is a bright spot in the film, but overall the movie was a massive let down for me and my inner child.
Worth the admission? If you are looking for something to pacify the kids for an hour or so, it’s worth going to the discounted matinee. Other than that, I would say to either rent it when it comes out on DVD or just watch the much superior 80’s TV Series from the comfort of your own home.