Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.
USA, 2011. Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Kerner Entertainment Company, MELS, Mel’s cite Du Cinema. Story by J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Screenplay by J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, David Ronn, based on characters created by Peyo. Cinematography by Phil Meheux. Produced by Jordan Kerner. Music by Heitor Pereira. Production Design by Bill Boes. Costume Design by Rita Ryack. Film Editing by Sabrina Pilsco.
Peyo’s comic strip creations, which hit the pop culture mill when they became a Saturday morning cartoon in the eighties, have finally made their way to the big screen via modern technology which mixes their cute, computer-generated selves with live-action performers and settings. On the run from the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria, thoroughly embarrassing himself) after he discovers the location of their Smurf Village, six of the minuscule blue creatures accidentally enter a wormhole that transports them from their mythical home to modern-day New York City. They fall into the lives of a happily married couple Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays who are in something of a crisis: there’s a new baby coming along, and Harris needs to hold on to his job as ad man for a ruthless cosmetics tycoon (Sofía Vergara) or else face unemployment. Meanwhile, the Smurfs need to find a way back home and spend the film causing no end of mischief while trying to figure out a solution to their conundrum. Basically lifting the plot from Masters Of The Universe, The Muppets Take Manhattan and a dozen other fish-out-of-blue-water narratives, this one suffers mainly from a lack of inspiration and very little humour. Even Alvin And the Chipmunks had a lot more sass, and far superior voice work: Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf sounds like he’s about to turn in for the night, while Katy Perry seems to have no clue what she’s doing (Anton Yelchin, as Clumsy Smurf, is the only effective off-screen performer). It’s derivative stuff that fails to recapture the feeling of the original series for nostalgic, now grown-up fans, but the youngsters will be delighted.