Release Date: April 7, 2017
Director: Kelly Asbury
Writer: Stacey Harman, Pamela Ribon
Cast: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Mandy Patinkin, Dee Bradley Baker, Frank Welker, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Julia Roberts, Ariel Winter, Meghan Trainor, Bret Marnell, Brandon Jeffords, Kelly Asbury, Jake Johnson, Gabriel Iglesias, Tituss Burgess, Jeff Dunham, Patrick Ballin, Gordon Ramsay, Melissa Sturm, Alan Mechem, Danik Thomas
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 89 minutes
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, Kerner Entertainment Company, LStar Capital, Sony Pictures Animation, Wanda Pictures
Genre: Animation, Adventure, Comedy
The Smurfs have been around for decades as cute little cuddly creatures with as many personalities as ten decks of cards. There’s just something about them that you can’t get enough of as they dance and sing, “La La La La La La,” repeatedly until the day is gone. Though we may get sick of them soon enough with an attempt as poor as this one. While some of the essence remained from The Smurfs, this adaptation caters only to children, unlike films from the past. Initially, that was what the property was designed for; but with its name being beloved for years upon years, there should still be some nostalgic value within the franchise. The Smurfs (2011), directed by Raja Gosnell (Never Been Kissed), was able to capture this, catering to all ages in a mixture of life action set pieces with mixed in animation. It was nearly a perfect film bringing forth everything great about the franchise. However, despite this 2017 mashup having a few good moments, it fell short of anything memorable.
One of the more disappointing aspects of the film was the lack of their signature song. Whoever was behind this decision should be locked up with the key thrown away. If anything, I was looking forward to this the most, and left scratching my head in frustration. The film is also a drag that picks up a couple of times when the Smurfs are in great peril, and besides these brief moments it barely focuses on several Smurfs; only paying attention to a few. This would be fine if you cared, but it’s hard to with their respective characters being strong. One Smurf is literally strong, but only physically with his muscles, and not his brain. Decisions he made only make you wish the whole thing was over. It felt like an eternity, despite surprisingly being only 89 minutes.
As briefly mentioned above, you can’t help but smile when the Smurfs are on the run. At least during this time their predicament was all due to one Smurf’s personality, which he can’t help, and this intensified the scene. Seeing all the Smurfs take action as an organized army was the highlight of the film, even though it was only short lived. And the infamous villain, Gargamel (Rainn Wilson), is as willfully dense as ever. The entire tone and approach is different from before. Yes, the 2011 film was campy, but it was also self-aware. This attempt is cringe worthy, as some jokes and material fall flat on the floor. It’s considerably disturbing having the studio reboot the franchise so close to its predecessor without giving the audience time to breathe, but with this action, and the way things turned out, it’s clear this was a cheap money grab that will perform poorly.
The animation is the saddest part about it all. The studio should be ashamed of itself, with the film at times looking like it was rendered in the 90’s. With today’s technology, there is a standard that needs to be met to be deemed worthy, but I guess Sony just said “F” it, and went full steam ahead. The only 3D effects that popped out at you or showed any depth to the picture were the opening credits. So that’s another way to waste your dollars. Overall, there was just no heart to the film, and that made the entire experience a dull chore.
The only audience this film is for is small children, and the jury is still out on if they would even enjoy it. Seeing this film with a ton of kids, there were a few chuckles, but it will be easily overlooked with next weekend’s release of new films. There shouldn’t be another Smurfs movie for another fifteen years, as Sony has beat this horse to the bone. I feel sorry for the parents that have to sit through this lazy excuse for a beloved franchise. If drugged there, remember it’s not too long to have to bare.