out of Five
Running time: 86
Despite appearances to the contrary, The Smurfs isn't nearly as annoying as you might imagine and is actually both charming and enjoyable, thanks to lively animation, a strong script, several good jokes and terrific performances from a superb cast.
What's it all about?
Directed by Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo), The Smurfs is based on the Belgian comic strip characters created by Peyo. When the evil-but-rubbish wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his equally evil-but-rubbish cat Azrael discover the location of the Smurfs'
enchanted village, they accidentally chase six of them – Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters), Smurfette (Katy Perry), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin), Brainy Smurf (Fred Armisen), Gutsy Smurf (Alan
Cumming) and Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez) – through a magical vortex that transports them all to modern-day New York City.
Once there, the Smurfs quickly befriend pregnant housewife Grace (Jayma Mays) and her stressed-out advertising executive husband Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), who is struggling to come up with a new beauty campaign for his high-powered boss Odile (Sofia Vergara). While the Smurfs hide out in Grace and Patrick's apartment, Papa Smurf quickly realises that they have to harness the power of the blue moon in order to get home, but Gargamel is hot on their trail and keen to capture their magical essence.
Hank Azaria is perfectly cast as Gargamel (he looks exactly like the comic character) and duly delivers a delightfully comic, Smurf-obsessed performance that's a treat to watch. There's also strong, likeable support from Harris and Mays, while the voice cast acquit themselves nicely – Perry proves she's more than just stunt casting as Smurfette (one “I kissed a Smurf and I liked it” joke aside), while Winters is suitably wise and unruffled as Papa Smurf and Yelchin does a good job with making the potentially irritating Clumsy emotionally engaging.
The animation is extremely well done, capturing the feel of the source material and nicely integrating the three-apples-high Smurfs into their New York surroundings. Similarly, Azrael is an entirely CGI-generated cat, which works much better than you might think (an amusing credit assures us that no CGI cats were harmed during the making of the film).
The plot may be fairly basic and it slightly overdoes both the pratfalls and the sentimentality of the be-true-to-yourself message, but the clever script makes up for it with several good jokes and some nice touches, such as Patrick and Grace looking up Smurfs on Wikipedia.
The Smurfs is an enjoyable, well made fantasy adventure that will appeal to children without annoying their dragged-along parents. Worth smurfing.