The Smurfs (2011)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Smurfs</strong> (2011)

(On Cable TV, April 2012) As someone who grew up on Les Schtroumpfs in their original French, both on TV and in comics, I suppose that I can’t be surprised if I’m not entirely enthusiastic about Hollywood’s The Smurfs live-action adaptation.  There’s something… wrong… about the way the Smurfs are rendered on-screen, the clean glossiness of the comics incarnation made a bit too real by 3D textures.  Thus unfairly prejudiced against the film, it’s no stretch to find the script rote, dull and juvenile even by kids’ movies standards.  While the occasional self-aware line is good enough to earn a smile, it’s not enough to excuse the tired slapstick, the badly-animated CGI cat or the Scottish Smurf making a constant stream of testicle jokes.  By the time the film features Smurfs rocking “Walk this Way” on Guitar Hero, I’m left shaking my head and muttering “Smurfs are not supposed to even try to be cool.”  Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays are cute as the New York couple hosting the little blue characters, and some of the thematic ties to the prospect of imminent parenthood strike an unexpected chord.  It’s not quite enough to offset the continuing annoyance at the antics on-screen, or the uncanny valley uneasiness of the Smurfs themselves… but it’s just enough to avoid throwing this film in the bin of irremediable failures.  At the very least, The Smurfs will keep the kids entertained, and some of the throwaway lines will entertain the adults.  Despite everything, it could have been worse.

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