SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE review

Well… who’s ready to see “Smurfs 3”!?

Oh fine, fine. It’s not a sequel, but aren’t you surprised that it isn’t? While I’ve never actually seen the films – only Youtube’s Nostalgia Critic’s reviews of them – I don’t feel compelled to see them. The first one seemed like an atrocious rip-off of other films with no real originality to speak of and… wasn’t even really about the Smurfs. It was about Neil Patrick Harris’ character and had a bunch of business-talk that no kid would ever care about. The sequel, from what I understand, is arguably worse in that it was mean-spirited and probably almost ruined young Jacob Tremblay’s chances at being a semi credible kid actor. Thank the lord for ROOM (2015). But as bad as the movies have been received, that never stopped the parents from taking their kids to see them. Each movie made money, so it’s a wonder why this new Smurfs movie isn’t a live-action sequel. A sequel was in the works, but got cancelled. I would say that we should be grateful, but we now have this one.

What’s wrong with this one, you might ask? It’s clearly going back to the animated fantasy setting that the original 80’s cartoon was known for, so isn’t that worth some merit? I guess it would be if the movie looked any good. Or worse, if they didn’t give you all the reason in the world to not see it by giving away its twist in the second trailer. Aside from that, the movie doesn’t look very good. The jokes look like they’re going to fall flat and the characters annoying. But if they’re going out of their way to make it feel more like a real smurfs movie, then it can’t be that awful.

Voice talent. Let’s get cracking. Starring, we have Demi Lovato, known for the Camp Rock movies, and TV shows GLEE and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN: THE SERIES, Rainn Wilson, known for SUPER (2010), JUNO (2007), TV show ADVENTURE TIME, and the upcoming film MEG (2018) and TV show STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, and Joe Manganiello, known for KNIGHT OF CUPS (2016), SABOTAGE (2014), TV show TRUE BLOOD, and the upcoming film THE BATMAN, due out… who knows when. In support, we have Mandy Patinkins, known for THE PRINCESS BRIDE (1987), and TV shows HOMELAND and CRIMINAL MINDS, Julie Roberts, known for MONEY MONSTER (2016), OCEANS ELEVEN (2001), and NOTTING HILL (1999), and Michelle Rodriguez, known for FURIOUS 7 (2015), AVATAR (2009), RESIDENT EVIL (2002), and the upcoming film THE FATE OF THE FURIOUS (2017).

Now for behind the scenes. Directing, we have Kelly Asbury, known for GNOMEO & JULIET (2011), SHREK 2 (2004), and SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON (2002). Co-writing the script are Stacy Harman, known for TV show THE GOLDBERGS, and Pamela Ribon, known for TV show SAMANTHA WHO?. Finally, the composer of the music is Christopher Lennertz, known for BAD MOMS (2016), TV show SUPERNATURAL, video game MASS EFFECT 3, and the upcoming film BAYWATCH (2017) and video game SCALEBOUND.

Overall, I can’t say I’m looking forward to it. It looks like it’s really meant for little kids and not really packing anything new or exciting.

This is my honest opinion of: SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE

(SUMMARY)

Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato) is still trying figure out what makes her unique, but having little success in doing so among the other Smurfs, despite her being well-liked. But her creator, the sorcerer Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson) is still looking for the Smurfs so he can enhance his magic. But one fateful day, near the forbidden forest, Smurfette catches sight of a creature that looked suspiciously like a Smurf. Despite Papa (voiced by Mandy Patinkins) saying that they can’t go, Smurfette and her friends decide to venture into the unknown in search of what makes Smurfette who she is and possibly find the fabled “lost village.”

(REVIEW)

While I’m sure it’s much better than live-action films, this is still not a very good animated movie. Certainly not the worst, but… eh.

Alright, so obviously I must have at least a couple good things to say, right? Actually, yes I do. First off, the movie is mostly, devoid of immature, thirteen-year-old humor masquerading as adult humor. No cat testicle humor, thank the Lord. The animation isn’t the worst and is pleasant to look at in certain scenes. Plenty of bright colors to keep the eyes engaged. The movie isn’t completely devoid of creativity. I won’t understand the function of a glow-in-the-dark bunny or how evolution took that kind of turn for them, but hey, fantasy affords a great deal of leeway in explaining stuff. But most importantly, because of the suspension of stupid and lazy humor, the movie does mostly have a sense of innocence to it. For the most part, this is a fine enough movie to show your kids. They won’t really get anything of value from it, but it’s not bad for them, per se.

But I think my favorite thing about the movie is the addition of female smurfs. In fact, with the exception of a couple characters, they’re a lot of fun and aren’t just there as punchlines for “girl” jokes. They contribute to the story, they’re an organized force to be reckoned with and I enjoyed watching them on screen. Also, Rodriguez in a kids movie. Can there be anything so far from the usual genre she’s associated with? Of course, can’t get too far from the norm as she does play the one lady Smurf that’s tough as nails and the true-to-form warrior. I was entertained to say the least when her character was on screen.

But beyond the compliments… it’s not impressively written.

First off, if the Smurfs’ names are due to the personality traits they exhibit, why is Clumsy so cowardly? Clumsy doesn’t mean you’re timid. It doesn’t even imply it. This is a consistent distraction throughout the movie, and it doesn’t help that he’s the most annoying character. He falls into that lazy character-writing where, “If he’s loud, he must be funny,” kind of writing. I’m no comedy writer, folks, but if I had a guess what “comedy-writing 101” entailed: stop making your characters scream. It’s not funny.

Also, as commendable as this movie is by expanding the Smurfs… “lore” by including a lost village of all-female Smurfs, it does feel a little too “girl power” to see that they’re the only ones who know how to fight and the boys are either passive, incompetent, or inexperienced. Ironic, considering how many adventures they’ve had avoiding Gargamel.

Speak of the devil, Gargamel is not funny either. Less obnoxious than Hank Azaria was in the live-action movies, from what I’ve seen, but it’s not exactly the biggest improvement either. I mean, the animation is there. He’s energetic, fast-moving, and he’s got funny emotions, so you want to laugh at him. But it’s the dialog that he’s given that kills everything. I never saw the original show, so I have a difficult time comparing this to that, but, yeah, none of his lines are funny. Something of an insult to Wilson as he has been a funny dude in the past. It’s a little sad when your primary villain is less funny than his dialogless cat side-kick.

Overall, the movie falls pretty flat. I won’t call it awful, but it’s obvious it’s meant for little kids and to shut them up for an hour and a half. I can’t imagine any adult caring about this, but I bet enough kids will get a kick out of it. I don’t recommend this in theaters. Save it for a rental if your kids are still giving you a hard time by the time it comes out, but if you never saw it, you’re not missing out.

My honest rating for SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE: a weak 3/5

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