Synopsis: The Smurfs make their first 3D trip to the big screen in Columbia Picturesâ/Sony Pictures Animationâs hybrid live-action and animated family comedy, The Smurfs. When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the Smurfs out of their village, theyâre forced through a portal, out of their world and into ours, landing in the middle of New Yorkâs Central Park. Just three apples high and stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks them down.
SMURF, and all Smurfs characters Â® & Â©2010 Lafig Belgium. All Rights Reserved. “Smurf” is a registered trademark of STUDIO PEYO
Release Date: July 29, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Children and Family
La la lalalalah, la la, lalala…yes, that tune that has been hidden in the back of your mind for years, begging to get out and be sung once again has returned. This time the small screen is not big enough for the Smurfs, they are invading movie screens everywhere with their infectious tunes and sweet dispositions.
The Smurfs, as characters, were created in 1958 by a Belgian artist named Pierre “Peyo” Culliford for a comic book. Originally called The “Schtroumpfs”, they were an instant success and their popularity grew over the years resulting in comics, books, a television series, videogames, animated films, live shows, and of course figurines. Generations have welcomed the Smurfs into their childhood idealic existence, and as adults the fondness one feels for the Smurfs never ceases. Using a combination of live-action and animation the Smurfs come alive in the newest spin-off of Smurfdom, Director Raja Gosnell’s The Smurfs.
The story behind The Smurfs is as old as the Smurfs. Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is desperately trying to catch a Smurf, or all of them, in order to harbor their blue essence so he may become the most powerful wizard. His ultimate catch would be Smurfette, his own creation who betrayed him to join the happy, loving world the Smurfs provided. On a blue moon things go awry in Smurf Village and Gargamel is able to invade; in a desperate attempt at survival the Smurfs flee, but one Smurf goes the wrong way on the path. This Smurf would be, obviously, Clumsy Smurf (voiced by Anton Yelchin). Coming across the forbidden falls Clumsy, Papa Smurf (voiced by the iconic Jonathan Winters), Smurfette (voiced by singer Katy Perry), Brainy (voiced by Fred Armison), Gutsy (voiced by Alan Cumming), and Grouchy (voiced by George Lopez) get sucked into a vortex that transports them to Central Park, New York City. Desperate to find their way home they set out to find a means to read the stars and conjure up the necessary spell to bring back a blue moon.
As is expected, they find help in a couple who are themselves about to embark on an adventure, that of parenthood. Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) take this group of vagabond Smurfs in and in true smurf fashion a bit of raucous occurs as they discover this new world. A favorite scene involves the Smurfs in a toy store where they are mistaken for toys. While they traverse this wonderland they find horrors–Smurfette coming across doll heads–and treasures–Smurfette finding new dresses aplenty–love–between Grouchy and an M&M doll–and of course what they need, a way to look at the stars. While the Smurfs may cause a bit of trouble for Patrick and Grace they also provide them with what they need. The good moral of the story shining through in the form of Papa Smurf handing out advice to the soon-to-be dad. It is a touching moment and one that makes the film a bit more than just another live-action animated film with well-known characters trying to survive the human world.
As much as The Smurfs is full of winsome delightfulness, mingled with the honeyed goodness that comes with the gentile manner the Smurfs possess, it falters with originality and comic attributes. Seeing Gargomel fail time and time again to capture a Smurf is humorous to watch, but the laughs never reach a grand height. The Smurfs themselves have their funny moments yet they are more cute, and altogether likable, than comedians. Making matters worse is the use of “smurf” as a substitute for another word. For example, “what the smurf are you doing?” This phrase may be interpreted a variety of ways but in today’s modern language world, full of slang and expletives used as often as the word “the” it is hard to separate oneself from plugging in a word that is not appropriate for the target demographic of The Smurfs–children. Overall The Smurfs may not be smurftastic, but it does warrant a big smurfy smile.
The Smurfs opens just where it should, in Smurf Village. The colorful, decadent world of the Smurfs is brought to life vividly. Their overgrown mushroom houses fill the meadow, and dozens upon dozens of Smurfs are going about their daily activities, singing their special tunes. Favorite Smurfs, like Handy, Clumsy, and Smurfette pass before your eyes. This is the magical world of the Smurfs, and aside from momentary blurring here and there (3D is not always the best choice) the animated world of the Smurfs is full of wonderment. It is very fleeting though, the time spent in Smurf Village. This is a Smurf out-of-water tale, and before long the bright lights of New York City fill the screen, and shall remain until the end credits when the viewer is treated to still images of Smurf Village becoming grander than it was before.
The most important part of the animation in The Smurfs is creating a “Smurf” inside of the real live-action world. They jump from trees, run through the streets, take down a toy store, and make breakfast while being surrounded by “real” people/things. The rendering of this hybrid animated live-action feature has proven successful for Sony Pictures Animation. The Smurfs look as real as a little blue Smurf can look. Their white beanie-esque hats and pants show dimension–not like painted on decals. When a Smurf bobs his head, the hat bobs along with him. When Smurfette shimmies, her dress shimmies as well. As for their faces, absolutely adorable. One of the main draws to the Smurfs as characters is their undeniable cuteness. Even Grouchy (voiced by George Lopez) is to be adored. Clumsy (voiced by Anton Yelchin) may be the sweetest klutz you could ever meet–totally lovable, beyond a doubt.
The animators had their work cut out for them when they signed on to put the Smurfs inside the real world. Thankfully they took care in making sure these iconic characters were given what they deserve.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Raja Gosnell
- Producer(s): J. David SternDavid N. Weiss
- Screenwriter(s): Neil Patrick Harris (Patrick)Jayma Mays (Grace)Hank Azaria (Gargamel)
- Story: Jonathan Winters (voice of Papa Smurf)
- Cast: Katy Perry (voice of Smurfette)Alan Cumming (voice of Gutsy Smurf)George Lopez (voice of Grouchy Smurf) Paul Reubens (voice of Jokey Smurf)Kenan Thompson (voice of Greedy Smurf)B.J. Novak (Voice of Baker Smurf)Jeff Foxworthy (voice of Handy Smurf)Wolfgang Puck (voice of Chef Smurf)Fred Armisen (voice of Brainy Smurf)Sabrina PliscoPhil Meheux
- Editor(s): Bill Boes
- Cinematographer: Heitor Pereira
- Production Designer(s): Drac Studios
- Costume Designer: Framestore
- Casting Director(s): Illusion IndustriesSony Pictures Imageworks (SPI)
- Music Score: Lola Visual Effects
- Music Performed By: The Base Studio
- Country Of Origin: USABelgium