Shelli DeRobertis 5:08 p.m., June 19
Review: The Smurfs
I remember re-writing the narration in my head the first time I saw the trailer: “From Raja Gosnell, the Academy Award-slighted ‘director’ of such box office (s)hits as Big Momma’s House, two steaming helpings of Scooby-Doo, and a movie in which a Rodeo Drive chihuahua out-performs Paris Hilton, comes The Smurfs. Get ready for a new shade of blew!”
The Smurfs instantly became this summer’s #2 must to avoid.
The following email was dated July 26:
Re: “The Smurfs”
Scott, I promised to take a friend to “Cowboys & Aliens.” You want this?
Only if the second choice is a paper cut across my cornea.
The lower-case ‘m’ refers to my blog-mate, Matt Lickona. Matt, brave soldier and all-around swell guy that he is, already took the bullet for me with this summer’s #1 must to avoid. In exchange for dodging The Zookeeper, it looks like I drew the Smurf-end of the stick.
My heart goes out to film critics and parents, afraid to leave children alone and unattended in a multiplex, unable to take shelter in another auditorium for the duration of the picture. Jeez, I feel sorry for the kids! Halfway through the movie, the little boy in front of me, half-asleep in Mommy's arms, yawned as he pleaded, “Can we go home now?” Take me too, Mommy. I beg you. 2-D or 3-D, no matter how you project it, The Smurfs is one-dimensional doody.
By the time The Smurfs hit NBC, the only kid-friendly ‘80’s TV show I wanted anything to do with was Saved by the Bell, still television’s greatest Saturday morning hangover remedy. I don’t know a Smurf from Dorf and not until researching this review did I realize that one of my idols, Jonathan Winters, provides the voice of Papa Smurf.
The franchise began in 1959 when cartoonist Peyo first detached his brigade of blue banality in Franco-Belgian funny papers. Peyo’s middle initial must have been ‘T’ because what else but peyote can bring about such an altered state of picturesque blandness?
If you find the plotting of Saved by the Bell formless and oversimplified, Peyo’s cookie-cutter narratives make Bell mastermind Peter “Der Vicer” Engel’s structural strategies look like dialectical montage.
Unable to attend a matinee performance, it soon became obvious that stereoscopic Smurfs were not in my future. Due to a contractual obligation, evening showings in the 3-D auditoriums were reserved for Harry Potter.
In The Smurfs, a mysterious vortex transports the race of little blue beings, no more than three road apples high, from their magical kingdom to the streets of Manhattan. Given their placid origins, it’s surprising that the sudden blast of product placement doesn’t induce a lethal dose of culture shock on the blithe, blue, CG lawn ornaments.
Long associated with this type of juvenile fare, Hank Azaria lets the makeup do the acting. Sorry if I didn't buy into Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mayes, the Disney-eyed chick from Glee (whatever the Smurf that is) as a coo-some twosome. The best I can say is they hit their marks well and I never once sensed the presence of a blue screen.
The raging Smurf inside me can hold back no longer as I feel compelled to work blue. Wanna' hear some filthy Smurfing dirty words? Plot. Gag structure. Pacing. Timing. It took four Smurfsucking mother-Smurfers to write this. Nothing happens and it does so S-L-O-W-L-Y and with no Smurfing signs of style, wit, or joy. How Smurfing inside can the Smurfhole screenwriters be if they're cracking jokes about Smurfing Blue Man Group?
And don't hit me with any of this bullSmurf about it being a kid's film. Kid's film my Aunt Fanny! What is with Smurfette being the only chick in a fantasy land conceived and lorded over exclusively by guys? Sounds more like a male rape fantasy waiting to happen. Cue the helicopters and Playboy bunnies from Apocalypse Now.
Do you want your children to grow up to be drooling retardates? Kids like it when movies entertain and challenge and so do parents. At fifteen-clams a head, how's about giving families a shared experience, not another round of singing chipmunks dyed blue. Hey, Raja: do the words Pee-Wee's Playhouse mean anything to you? Obviously not.
Learn what happens to Papa Marx Smurf when blue turns red, in this right-thinking piece from The Washington Post.
Other than that, everything you'll ever need to know about The Smurfs is contained in this miraculous 8-minute advertisement for Borden's Milk from 1935.