Movie Review: New Smurfs are Nothing Special

Movie Review: New Smurfs are Nothing Special

About the Author

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins

Tyler Collins is a thespian and performer who has worked with theatre, film, and TV across Ontario. He comes from Campbellton, NB, and has lived in North Oakville nearly 20 years. Currently, he studies Journalism at Sheridan College. Twitter: @MrTyCollins

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In the crowded Animation genre, most movies try to be as loud and grandiose as they can hoping to stand out. Smurfs: The Lost Village, happily does the opposite, and is a gentle, simple movie with a cutesy flair and colourful design. There’s nothing noteworthy or noticeably important about it, though it makes for a fine afternoon distraction.

If you’re unfamiliar with the optimistic blue creatures, the Smurfs started as a Belgian comic strip by Pierre Culliford about a village of happy blue things called…well, Smurfs. It’s been a franchise for almost 70 years, featured in English film and television since the 80s, and has grown into a worldwide family-friendly property with a muted presence.

The Smurfs have made some truly abysmal movies in recent years with its live-action/animation mixes, like 2011’s The Smurfs or it’s 2013 sequel. But that visually nauseating style is gone here. With no pesky humans, the only ones left are the cuddly, colourful smurfs in their quaint village and forests.

Each of the forest scenes and backdrops are quite pretty and mostly charming to the eye. There isn’t much inventiveness to the design, though it does have a refreshing natural look to the whimsical fantasy world. (Director Kelly Asbury has done the same with other slick animations, like Shrek 2 and Gnomeo & Juliet.)

Photo credit: Sony Animation.

All you need to know about the story is a couple of the smurf buddies are going on an adventure through the forest of fun, all while avoiding a silly wizard. I won’t say much else to avoiding spoiling any of the two plot details because it ruins the whole thing if you know the surprise twist going in. (Though it’s not exactly hard to guess after the first 15 minutes.)

But that twist is nice – and I applaud writers Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon for including so many prominent female characters, which is so rare in animation. It brings a nice balance, especially in a franchise where the only girl so far has been called “Smurfette” of all things.

Many of the voice actors are strong with their simple task, though the couple modern schticks they use as jokes are off-putting. What is surprisingly funny are the cameos of one-line smurfs. Some are unrecognizable, and others are easy. Gordon Ramsey as Chef Smurf, for example, is hysterical, as is Michelle Rodriguez as Mechanic Smurf.

So this new Smurfs isn’t nearly as painful as its recent predecessors, but it’s also nothing special, and definitely not compelling enough with better family movies still in theatres. It’s fun a while, instantly forgettable, and in the end it’s hard to imagine why another cutesy smurf movie was made. Creatively? It feels like they might just be lost.

Smurfs: The Lost Village
2 out of 4 stars.

G, 89 minutes. Animated Fantasy.
Directed by Kelly Asbury.
Starring Demi Lovato, Jack McBrayer, Rainn Wilson, Mandy Patinkin, and Julia Roberts.
Now Playing at Film.Ca Cinemas, Cineplex Winston Churchill and Cineplex Oakville & VIP.

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