By Jeff Boudreaux
Hey Gargamel! You can stick a magical fork (or whatever else you may decide to conjure up) into the Smurfs. They’re done, and so are you for that matter. Contrary to what you may believe you are reading, I am not spoiling the end of this movie. On the contrary, the writers (Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon) of this laughless, listless drivel have effectively spoiled a return to glory for this beloved franchise of over 50 years. It’s a pity because I had just the slightest bit of hope for the late, great Belgian animator Peyo’s little blue creations, as they are actually appearing on movie screens without the help (or hindrance) of live actors for the first time since 1983’s stateside release of “The Smurfs and the Magic Flute.” You’d think that after those horrendous Raja Gosnell-helmed features in 2011 and 2013, that an all-animation reboot would be just what the Smurf doctor ordered. Think again, because this is certainly no improvement, and that’s just unacceptable.
Back in Smurf Village, everyone wants to be close to the lovely Smurfette (Demi Lovato), the only girl in town. Well, when I say everyone I mean Hefty (Joe Mangianello), Brainy (Danny Pudi), and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) because they are the only Smurfs given anything to do in this film. Sure, there’s good old Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), but he’s only there to admonish the quartet from partaking in any adventures that may raise the ire of the evil sorcerer Gargamel (Rainn Wilson). And he has a good point, since the four friends stumble upon what appears to be a lost village, which prompts Gargamel to capture the Smurfs and steal their map to this “forbidden forest.” It’s hard to keep a group of Smurfs locked up, especially when they’re smaller than the openings in the cage that they’re thrown into! Thus, everybody’s favorite Smurfs must race against Gargamel, complete with cat and bird henchmen, to find the mysterious forest and meet the lost village’s all-girl tribe of Smurfs, featuring the gruff Smurfstorm (Michelle Rodriguez), the friendly Smurfblossom (Ellie Kemper), and their tough-but-fair leader, Smurfwillow (Julia Roberts).
Adults, just so you know, there is absolutely nothing geared towards you in this film. Well, other than the inclusion of Eiffel 65’s pre-Y2K hit “Blue (Da Ba Dee).” If ever a song fit, this is surely the place. Regardless, I’m utterly shocked that the MPAA has decided in their infinite wisdom to bestow a PG rating upon “Smurfs: The Lost Village.” I don’t know why Gargamel’s antagonism towards his small, blue sworn enemies would be considered any more perilous than that of an episode out of the 1980’s Hanna-Barbera TV show. Or perhaps someone thought that Hefty Smurf was eyeing Smurfette a little too much, but I digress. Parents will most certainly be eyeing the exit doors, but hopefully their kids will be enjoying it, because even the laughs out of the centennials in the audience seemed to be lacking at my screening. Next time (if there is one), Sony should at least throw the people who are paying for the tickets a bone or two, much like Disney/Pixar manages to entertain the entire family, and not only the little children. You know, maybe actually earn that PG rating, instead of wasting it on who knows what.
It didn’t help matters any when I was forced to listen to an endless 30-second loop of Meghan Trainor’s new song “I’m a Lady,” set to clips of Smurfette, for a solid half-hour before the film started. (Luckily, general release audiences won’t be subjected to this kind of cruel and unusual punishment.) By the time the song was finally introduced into the film, I internally voiced a resounding “ugh” that would have made Charlie Brown proud (had he the penchant for reading minds or deciphering body language while fictitiously frequenting other family film franchises!) Pardon the tongue twister, but it’s quite sad that these cute little guys and gals haven’t been given the treatment by Sony Pictures Animation that their creator would have certainly wished for them. To sum it all up, there’s a scene in the middle of the film where Clumsy Smurf is decked out on the banks of the lost river (having just endured a perilous journey through the caves and rapids). He tells his friends, and I quote, “this just isn’t that fun.” Well Clumsy, I couldn’t agree with you more.
1/2* (1/2-out-of-4 stars)