Friday, December 27, 2013

The Smurfs

The Smurfs; fantasy comedy, USA, 2011; D: Raja Gosnell, S: Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Jonathan Winters (voice), Katy Perry (voice)

In a fairytale forest, Gargamel and his cat Azrael find the secret location of the Smurf village, and in the ensuing chase, they and six Smurfs - Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Clumsy, Grouchy, Brainy and Gutsy - fall into the forbidden waterfalls, where they enter a portal and land in New York. The Smurfs find refuge in the apartment of Patrick, an advertisement specialist, and his pregnant wife Grace, while Gargamel is still trying to find them in order to exploit them for his superpowers. After a lot of misadventures, Patrick is able to help the Smurfs get back to their world via the portal during a Blue Moon.

Every now and then, certain live action adaptations of fantasy animated shows would send the characters into the real world. And while that was not quite welcomed in "Masters of the Universe", where the heroes landed in California, it was a welcomed turn of events to send the big screen adaptation of the "Smurfs" in New York, because there is simply not much to hold on to a feature length film revolving only around their village. Talented comedian Neil Patrick Harris saved the film, and that's pretty much it. Raja Gosnell's "The Smurfs" are a politically correct, but bland and uneventful film with no jokes worth mentioning. There is a subplot where Gargamel gains followers when he transforms an older lady into a younger woman, but it is suddenly dropped since it leads nowhere. Likewise, in one sequence, the Smurfs enter a store, but nothing happens except for empty breaking up stuff. That is because the screenwriters did not know what to do with those storylines, they just start and then drop them before they amount to anything. Naturally, though, it would have been a challenge to make something out of this vague concept even for B. Wilder. With only one truly funny joke (Patrick's swearing: "Smurf me!"), and a lot of well meant, but sadly lost performances in the thin, insipid plot, this is only a watchable flick that is even weaker once the hype is 'turned off'.


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