Likely to appeal exclusively to the ‘Under 8′ demographic – and yet harmless enough not to offend parents who will no doubt accompany their kids – "The Smurfs" is a formulaic, fish-out-of-water adventure featuring the little blue stars of that popular 80s cartoon series. ((pause)) The movie opens in the Smurfs’ village, a mystical little hamlet where a hundred of these pint-sized folk live a carefree existence humming their annoying theme song and generally whiling away their time doing nothing of any consequence. When evil wizard Gargamel (played by Hank Azaria) and his nasty cat show up so they can capture the Smurfs and steal their essence, a bunch of little fellows escape through a magical portal to New York City, with wizard and cat close on their heels. ((pause)) This premise is reminiscent of such films as "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Enchanted" in which the out-of-towners befriend cynical New Yorkers and end up teaching them valuable life lessons. In this film, the half-dozen runaway Smurfs land up at the home of a stressed-out marketing executive and father-to-be (played by Neil Patrick Harris) who doesn’t have the patience to deal with their shenanigans. Not only do they dispel his anxieties about being a good parent, they also help save his job, which he’s on the brink of losing. ((pause)) There’s very little that’s original or new here, the only bright spot being Hank Azaria’s performance as the gleefully depraved Gargamel, and the acidic barbs he directs at his cat Azrael. The Smurfs themselves are mostly bland, and particularly Papa Smurf’s sermons on family values are likely to make you yawn. ((pause)) I’m going with two out of five for "The Smurfs". It’s strictly for the little ones who might enjoy the toilet-centric gags and the overall cutesy tone of the film!

 

 

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