Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Smurfs

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Smurfs - 1 out of 5

As a child, I was a big fan of The Smurfs--later, as I got older, I realized the creatures were a metaphor for a communist society but when I was young, all I cared about was the small happy, singing and dancing blue things.  However, I did NOT want to watch this movie.  When I first saw the trailer, all I thought was, "man, this looks awful."  Secondly, the film had Neil Patrick Harris and I am not a fan of the guy.  I know people are going to hate me for this since it seems the entire world loves NPH but I don't find him funny.  He always comes off like he's trying to hard to me.  With these two factors being major contributors and the fact the film was universally panned by critics, I doubt if I could handle sitting through the movie.  So, I put it to a vote with my friends on Facebook and it was unanimous--they all wanted me to watch and review The Smurfs.

BLUE Smurfs in front of a BLUE Man Group sign...subtle.

Right off the bat, I have to say that just like the vicious raping of my childhood memories of The Transformers that Michael Bay committed, Raja Gosnell has done the same with The Smurfs.  We are living in the golden age of family films as movies that once were entirely market for children are now made where the adults in the family can sit down and enjoy the movie with the little ones without feeling like the movie is demeaning their intelligence.  Hell, thanks to Pixar, it's no longer creepy for a childless 30 year old like myself to go see an animated movie alone without having parents hold their kids tighter for fear I may have a windowless van outside--I happen to like animated kids movies, judgmental soccer mom!

However, The Smurfs can be summed up in one phrase:  Lowest Common Denominator.  That describes everything about this film and mostly the jokes.  Adults will feel insulted watching this regurgitate hurled onto the screen and only kids will find the inane humor acceptable.  But what do you expect from a movie that was produced for no other reason than to sell plastic toys in a Happy Meal?  But is this fact even surprising?  They made Smurfette for the sole reason of selling toys to little girls.

Now in front of a Blu-Ray sign?!?  This was the best the writers could come up with?

The story involves the loveable little communists being uprooted from their happy little enchanted forest and being thrown into the real world.  Brainy, Smurfette, Clumsy, Gutsy (who?), Grouchy and Papa Smurf are tossed into a world they don't understand and seek the help of Doogie Howser...all the while Gargamel is out to collect their essence in order to become the most powerful wizard ever.  

First off, who the hell is Gutsy Smurf and how is it even possible that one of the Smurfs is created with a Scottish accent and even wears a kilt when the Smurfs have no clue where or what Scotland is?  When the Smurfs hit the real world, everything they see is a complete mystery to them, so again I ask, how did Gutsy Smurf come to be?  Also, why is he the only other Smurf to get facial hair?  Is Papa and Gutsy the only Smurfs capable of growing hair on their face?  Is their a Soulpatch Smurf or Beard Smurf?


With the lame jokes, weak story and overall phoned in presentation of the film, one would be hard-pressed to find a child that would actually sit through it.  The younger the better in this case because the bright colors would amuse them but other than that, I can conclude that many children would find this one entertaining.  And adults...avoid it like the plague.

Even the presence of the incredibly sexy Sofia Vergara isn't enough to distract a
viewer how awful The Smurfs is.

If there was any saving grace to the movie, it would be the fact that the special effects are surprisingly good.  The Smurfs all look legit and how one would image if their comic or cartoon counterparts suddenly came to life--however, this bit of quality is completely lost and destroyed as the real-life actors are incapable of convincingly act with digital characters around them.  Anytime Harris or Jayma Mays (Neil's character's wife) have to physically interact with a Smurf, they are incapable of selling the realism of the little creatures "only three apples high."  Their pantomime looks awkward and will immediately thrown an adult out of the story--not to mention they spend more time looking "through" the CG animations than looking at them.

In all seriousness, the special effects weren't that bad.

Why Hank?  Why?
If there's another saving grace, it would be Hank Azaria as Gargamel.  There was only two or three times the movie made me chuckle (only chuckle, and the chuckles were kinda forced on my part) and they all came from the immensely talented Azaria.  He's so talented, though, I had to wonder why he did this film?  I actually felt bad for him.  Is The Simpsons not paying him enough so he had to take this role?  Does he have creditors on his back ready to break his legs?  Does he have a secret family he has to take care of or did he once murder a guy and is paying the witness off to remain quiet?

"Quick, be quiet, act like plastic toys and immediately start making bad jokes again."

Overall, the movie is just annoying and hard to sit through.  Like I previously said, the jokes are bad and lowest common denominator stuff.  Every "smurf" quip and "blue" gag is predictable and, if that wasn't bad enough, it seem the writers wrote a million gags that themed on the creatures' color and their affinity for using the word "smurf" to replace other words that they had to jam them in every second of the entire film.  Seriously, the Smurfs never shut up and are talking constantly.  And to make this lack of silence an even bitter-er pill to swallow, some great voice actors are brought in to give life to The Smurfs.

Instead of making Vanity a gay stereotype, they made him
British.  How very American of Hollywood.
Jonathon Winters does an amazing job as Papa Smurf, Fred Armisen is Brainy, Anton Yelchin is great as Clumsy and we're even treated with Paul Reubens as Jokey and John Oliver as Vanity Smurf (my hat must come off for the restraint the movie showed by NOT making Vanity a flaming homosexual stereotype.  Had Michael Bay done this cartoon adaptation, it would be a guarantee that he would have had Paul Lynde resurrected to provide the voice).  But for every great actor we get doing a voice, we have to put up with George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf and Katy Perry as Smurfette.  Is it not bad enough that Perry is polluting the radio waves with her generic pop music she has to pollute our movies as well?

In case you're wondering, yes, there is an awful reference to her awful songs in this movie.

Critics have said that despite the horrible movie, Neil Patrick Harris was great in it but I didn't see it.  Like I said, I think the guy is overrated and not funny.  Watching him in this movie, all I saw was the same thing I see in him in every project he does...a guy trying way WAYYYYY too hard to be funny to the point it ruins the scenes he's in.  I guess I'll just never understand the world's attraction to the man.

I guess this is suppose to be funny.

The Smurfs is a prime example of a adaptation gone horribly awry as the need to market and merchandise takes precedence over quality.  The reality is, a great film about the Smurfs could have been made but when your main focus is to sell plastic choke hazards to little boys and girls and make a movie that can distract the kids long enough so the parents can either have a quickie in the bedroom or cry into a bottle of Jack Daniels as they scroll through the phonebook for a divorce lawyer, what more can you expect?  

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