Those lovable Smurfs have finally hit the big screen this summer with their first theatrical live-action-film, simply entitled, The Smurfs.
The Smurfs follows the adventures of Papa Smurf and his fellow Smurfs as they are sucked through a magical voxrtex from their world into our modern day society. However, to add to their troubles, their arch nemesis. Gargamel (Hank Azaria), along with his sidekick cat, Azriel, are also transported to our world as well. While trapped in our world, the Smurfs befriend an expecting couple, The Windslows, played by Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) and Jayma Mays (Red Eye), try to help the smurfs get back to their mushroom village.
Helming the daunting task of making the live-action film of the Smurfs was left to Director, Raja Gosnell, known for his family’s friend’s work on such films as, Home Alone 3, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, and another classic cartoon work — Scooby-Doo. However, instead of treating Peyo’s Smurf property with respect and creating a family-friendly-film in the likes of Alvin and The Chipmunks or Yogi Bear, Raja Gosnell chooses the go for practical jokes, toilet humor, and the appeal of children.
The Smurfs film has been in a troubled pre-production state since 2003, and it truly shows in the film with it’s voice casting, it’s live action talent, story depth, and overall translation to a feature length film.
One major issue is the voice actor’s cast in the roles of the Smurfs do not appear to correctly reflect their characters’ namesake. A perfect example of this was demonstrated by casting the “happy go-lucky”, George Lopez (Beverly Hills Chihuahua) as the voice of Grouchy Smurf, or having Papa Smurf sounding like a bit to young for someone his age.
The comedic talent of Hank Azaria is certainly used well in the film; however, at times it appears to have been “dummied” down to appeal to a kindergarten audience instead of a broad family appeal. It is also unfortunate that the ever sarcastically funny Neil Patrick Harris was so restrained in his role that he looked like he phoned it in instead of being an intricate part of the cast.
Aside from all of its flaws with it’s production, the Smurfs will also not help win back audiences who are starting to see 3D films as a gimmick just to make the studios money. The post-production 3D on The Smurfs is extremely poor to which you can actually watch the film with without glasses on and still see a very clear picture.
The Smurfs will no doubt connect with its intended audience — children; however, the Smurfs being an “evergreen” property that appeals to all ages could have been a very successful movie that appealed to a broad family audience. Instead family members will be drawing straws this weekend to see who looses to take their children to see this film.