This live-action/animation hybrid reintroduces the little blue creatures of Smurf Village — a place where there is no sadness and feeling blue is a good thing — to a new generation not raised on the effervescently perky pint — they may be blue but there’s not a melancholy one in the bunch — sized blue creatures.
I was a bit too cynical to buy into the Smurf craze of the 1980s — they were so popular one writer called them “kiddie cocaine” — but now I can see it as something other than an hour and a half advertisement for Smurfs Are Us. The new incarnation is a sweet kid’s movie with just enough grown-up material to keep the parents interested.
Of course the Smurfs are the main attraction, but it is bad guy Hank Azaria and his evil cat sidekick Azrael who provide the movie’s biggest laughs. The live action Gargamel is a classic kid villain, a baddie who’s not as smart as he thinks he is, and Azaria plays him with pantomime relish in a performance that is as big as the Smurfs are small. His evil feline sidekick is almost as big a scene stealer as he is.
Voice work is uniformly good, with Jonathan Winters leading the way with his warm and fuzzy take on Papa Smurf’s voice. Also clever is the Narrator Smurf (voice of Tom Kane) who provides a play-by-play of the action in dulcet tones.
“The Smurfs” trades on its inherent cute factor and nostalgia for much of its appeal. There are some good messages for kids woven in and the animation is relentlessly adorable but is there anything here for anyone over the age of five? Silly question. Is a Smurf’s butt blue?