The Smurfs is certainly not a very good movie but it did provide a few laughs – which is more than I can say about The Hangover Part II – and the animation, while nothing special, is still decent enough. The Blu-ray offers up a fair amount of features (albeit EPK-like in substance) but the audio and video both are excellent.
Genre(s): Animation, Comedy
Sony | PG – 103 min. – $45.99 | December 2, 2011
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Writer(s): J. David Stem & David N. Weiss (story), David Stem & David N. Weiss and Jay Scherick & David Ronn (screenplay)
Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria
Voice Cast: Jonathan Winters, Alan Cumming, Katy Perry, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin
Theatrical Release Date: July 29, 2011
Features: 2 Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, BD-Live, DVD Copy, Ultra Violet Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 2
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Spanish
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
And the beat goes on. Yep, the trend of Hollywood running out of material continues and given the massive successes of Alvin and the Chipmunks, why wouldn’t they reach back to the 1980s where producers got their claws on The Smurfs and slapped some 3D just for kicks and extra dough. That being said, I have to admit this wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined or as the trailers made it out to be.
The story of The Smurfs begins in their magical village as the Smurfs get ready for the Blue Moon Festival where the group of little blue men (and one girl) makes preparations of song, dance and a festive atmosphere. Outside of the village, camouflaged by one Papa Smurf’s spells (mightily similar to Herminie’s spell in Deathly Hallows Part 1), Gargamel (HANK AZARIA) and his cat Azrael (part real cat/part CGI voiced by FRANK WELKER) scheme to ways he can capture the Smurfs to make magical potions and… um… rule that world? I’m can’t entirely remember. As if it matters, point is, he’s the bumbling yet dangerous bad guy.
Back at the village, Papa Smurf sees a terrible vision of Clumsy Smurf (ANTON YELCHIN) getting into trouble and Gargamel becoming a powerful wizard, entrapping several of the Smurfs in cages. With that vision, he forbids Clumsy from going out and picking Smurf Roots outside of the realm but Clumsy does so anyway and runs right into Gargamel and Azrael leading them right into the village. Chaos and carnage follow, well chaos anyway, as the cat destroys their mushroom huts and the hundreds of Smurfs go scouring to safety. Unfortunately, coming upon a fork in the path, Clumsy takes the wrong one with Papa, Gutsy (ALAN CUMMING), Smurfette (KATY PERRY), Brainy (FRED ARMISEN) and Grouchy (GEORGE LOPEZ) going after him before it’s too late. They get cornered with Gargamel and Azrael gaining on them with their only escape being some magical portal/”Doctor Who” wormhole generated by the Blue Moon.
In New York City, after some hijinks and touring this new world, Clumsy manages to get himself into more trouble by getting trapped in a box to the home of Patrick (NEIL PATRICK HARRIS) and Grace Winslow (JAYMA MAYS) where the pair discover Clumsy and the others as they try to escape. Of course they’re shocked by the discovery and yet still take the whole thing quite well to the point where they try to help them get back home.
Meanwhile, Gargamel still has plans for… whatever… and pursues The Smurfs. He at first gets help from Patrick’s tough boss, Odile (SOFIA VERGARA), a cosmetics mogul, but the writers seem to drop that aspect completely showing Odile to be a decent gal in the end. Point is, that part of the film in which Gargamel shows off his mystical powers – turning back the clock on her mother and thus having the ultimate make-up product – could’ve completely been dropped and nobody would’ve been the wiser.
Anyway, you get the gist.
Alright, so when the movie ended, I have to admit that The Smurfs was not nearly as bad as I had envisioned. Is it any good? Not really, but I thought it was on par with Alvin and the Chipmunks and Scooby-Doo, although I give the latter a slight edge. Speaking of Scooby-Doo, this was one was directed by Raja Gosnell, the go-to guy for family comedies having previously helmed classics like Home Alone 3 (debut), Big Momma’s House, Scooby-Doo 2 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Comparatively speaking, The Smurfs at least is a half competent flick providing some safe laughs intermixed with some dull moments.
As far as the casting goes, just like with Jason Lee in Chipmunks movies, I give some credit to the live actors having to act either against nothing or, more likely, cardboard cutouts. Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria get the most interaction and I thought they did well enough with the material they had. For her part, Sofia Vergara is hot but she offers little else and as I said, that role could’ve been far more delicious if she were a secondary villain, but the writers apparently gave up on that idea and thus her character was basically unnecessary.
And that’s where I stand on The Smurfs: While it’s certainly not bad and serves as decent entertainment for 100-minutes, I also feel it’s unnecessary. This is coming from somebody in his 30s so obviously I am not the target audience (people with young kids) so on that front, although there are better options out there (any Pixar movie save for Cars 2) but you could do worse.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
This two-disc set comes in a standard Blu-ray case with a lenticular slip cover. The first disc contains both the 2D and 3D versions, so it will work on all players. Looking at the back cover for the 2D only release, this contains all the features save for “Smurf-O-Vision” Second Screen Feature (for use on portable devices) and the “Smurf Christmas Special”.
Commentary Tracks – Surprisingly, this comes with two commentaries, one with Director Raja Gosnell and the other with Producer Jordan Kerner, Writers J. David Stem & David N. Weiss and Jay Scherick & David Ronn and VFX Supervisor Richard Hoover. Both tracks offer up a fair amount of information. I preferred the group tracks that, from what I could tell, were all together in the same room/booth, so it’s a cohesive commentary. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
The Smurfs Fantastic Adventure Game – In this interactive game, you control Clumsy and must find and save Papa Smurf from Gargamel. You can play in “Story Mode” or “Arcade Mode”.
Deleted & Extended Scenes (7:41; HD) include 5 scenes that for one reason or another did not make the cut, but I suspect it’s because they’re pointless and/or unfunny. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
The Smurfs: Comic Book to Screen (8:15; HD) covers the origin of the little blue men from comic book to taking them to the big screen.
Smurf Speak: Meet the Cast (9:26; HD) takes us through the voice cast as each give their thoughts on each. Really, it’s just an EPK-type of featurette but still interesting to hear from the actors. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Going Gargamel (9:57; HD) takes a look at Hank Azaria playing the villain Gargamel from his co-stars and the actor himself. It also takes a look at the make-up process to transform Azaria into the character
Blue-pers (0:25; HD) – As you can guess by the play-on-words, this is a really short reel (two in fact) with the Smurfs goofing off. Yeah, it’s pointless. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Happy Montage (1:49) – This is just a montage of scenes from the movie. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Progression Reel (9:14; HD) – This is a collection of five stages of the animation process. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **
Previews – Arthur Christmas, The Pirates: Bad of Misfits, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 3D
The set also includes a UltraViolet Digital Copy code, BD-Live portal and a second disc with the DVD Copy.
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Smurfs is presented in a visually stunning 1080p high-def transfer. The 1.78 widescreen feature has great detail levels whether you’re in the animated world or in New York City, with bright colors and good black levels when we do get to darker shots/scenes. The balance of colors is well done too where it never looks like it was artificially pumped up. I’m not prepared to say this is reference quality, but it’s close and certainly kids will be mesmerized.
AUDIO – 4.5/5
The disc also contains a rich 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, taking advantage of the numerous action scenes while also having a good mix during the quieter, more dialogue-heavy scenes as well. I didn’t notice the bass getting used a whole lot but there is some rumblings during the finale.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, The Smurfs is certainly not a very good movie but it did provide a few laughs – which is more than I can say about The Hangover Part II – and the animation, while nothing special, is still decent enough. I still don’t care for Hollywood reaching into the 70s/80s rather than coming up with something original, yet I still feel this is harmless family entertainment. The Blu-ray offers up a fair amount of features (albeit EPK-like in substance) but the audio and video both are excellent.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2.