Saturday, April 8, 2017

Smurfs: The Lost Village review

By Nico Beland
Movie Review: ** ½ out of 4
Something Smurfy this way comes in Smurfs: The Lost Village

            As many of you know, I’ve had some bad experiences with film adaptations of Peyo’s iconic Smurfs cartoon in the past, me and everyone else. The Smurfs was a cartoon I barely watched growing up, I recall seeing bits and pieces of it when Cartoon Network was rerunning it, but it did not spark my interest.
            I’m not prejudiced towards The Smurfs, it’s pretty hard to rip on something clearly meant for little kids. Unless we’re talking about the dreaded live-action/animated films from Sony Pictures Animation, they Smurfin’ sucked, nothing more to say.
            Due to the very poor critical reactions towards the live-action movies, or Sony just wanting to shake more money out of children’s pockets, we got an all-animated reboot, Smurfs: The Lost Village. I had very low expectations coming into this movie due to my dissatisfaction of the earlier films, and after seeing the trailers and ads; but it looked much more promising and closer to its source material than The Smurfs (2011) or The Smurfs 2.
            I saw the movie, and came out very surprised, no, it’s not a good movie, but for a Smurfs movie, it’s a huge, HUGE, improvement over the earlier films. No live-action, no magic portal to the real world, no Neil Patrick Harris, no New York City (Bad City, you’re sleeping in the doghouse!).
            It’s the Smurfs in their own unique world and the bizarre things they encounter on their journey. So, this movie alone has much more imagination and more of an understanding of what The Smurfs is than either one of the live-action movies, and I’m so relieved to say that.
            The film follows, Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato-Camp Rock, Princess Protection Program, Glee), the only girl Smurf in Smurf Village, feeling out of place due to her being created by the evil wizard, Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson-The Office, Monsters VS Aliens, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) to capture the Smurfs so he can extract their magic essence and become the most powerful sorcerer ever. But thanks to Papa Smurf (voiced by Mandy Patinkin-The Princess Bride, The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, The Wind Rises) she was able to turn her back on Gargamel and become good.
            During a fun day with her friends, Clumsy Smurf (voiced by Jack McBrayer-30 Rock, Phineas and Ferb, Wreck-It Ralph), Hefty Smurf (voiced by Joe Manganiello-Spider-Man, How I Met Your Mother, Ture Blood), and Brainy Smurf (voiced by Danny Pudi-Greek, Community, Powerless), Smurfette discovers a map that could quite possibly lead to another village of Smurfs. Upon hearing about the village, Gargamel and his lackeys, Azrael the cat and Monty the eagle plots to find it, capture all the Smurfs, and extract their essence.
            It’s up to Smurfette, Clumsy Smurf, Hefty Smurf, and Brainy Smurf to get to the village, warn the Smurfs about Gargamel, and fend him off.
            The film also features the voices of Julia Roberts (Hook, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Ant Bully) as Smurf Willow, Michelle Rodriguez (Fast & Furious franchise, Avatar, Turbo) as Smurf Storm, Ellie Kemper (The Office, Bridesmaids, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Smurf Blossom, Ariel Winter (Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, Phineas and Ferb, Mr. Peabody & Sherman) as Smurf Lily, singer, Meghan Trainor as Smurf Melody, Jake Johnson (Safety Not Guaranteed, New Girl, High School USA) as Grouchy Smurf, Gordon Ramsay (Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef) as Baker Smurf (Fitting), Tituss Burgess (30 Rock, The Angry Birds Movie, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) as Vanity Smurf, Gabriel Iglesias-The Fluffy Movie, The Book of Life, Cristela) as Jokey Smurf, Jeff Dunham (The Jeff Dunham Show, Delta Farce, From Up on Poppy Hill) as Farmer Smurf, and the film’s director, Kelly Asbury (Shrek the Third, Gnomeo & Juliet) as Nosey Smurf.
            Overall, Smurfs: The Lost Village is everything the first live-action Smurfs movie should have been, but wasn’t. The movie understood the source material while still being a serviceable kids film.
            The Lost Village did not need magic portals, New York, or Neil Patrick Harris, instead it gave us new Smurfs, a simple but decently-paced story, humorous voice acting, and something the live-action movies were completely devoid of…IMAGINATION! The world of the Smurfs in this film is fascinating and amazing to look at, even if the animation isn’t exactly the best.
            Instead of boring old New York City or Paris, this film has Smurf eating flowers, rivers that float in the air, glowing bunnies that sound like horses, and plants that punch Smurfs with boxing gloves…where the Smurf was all this in your movies Raja Gosnell!?! The live-action films I can only call Smurfs by name, everything in this movie feels like an updated Smurfs cartoon, and I wouldn’t mind showing it to my kids and this coming from a guy who would keep the live-action movies as far away from my children as possible.
            A huge improvement over the earlier films, but there is a huge problem I have with this movie, the humor. Obviously, this movie is meant for kids, what is a common cliché for comedy in children’s films? Lots of butt and fart jokes, except here pretty much the entire comedic aspect of the film is fueled on this type of humor and it gets old REAL fast.
            But I am willing to forgive this movie for its lack of laughs because concept and story wise, it delivered what I wanted to see in a Smurfs movie, the world of it. The live-action movies lacked the imagination of the cartoons and humor, this movie lacks the humor but the imagination and creativity is in full force here, so I’m glad I saw it.

            If you want something harmless to take the kids to on a Saturday matinee or if you’re a longtime Smurfs fan, Smurfs: The Lost Village may deliver what you’re looking for.

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