Aug 28, 2011

The Smurfs (2011): B-

So sue me, I kind of enjoyed The Smurfs. Maybe it was a matter of expectations, something I've routinely tried to avoid since having my heart broken by one too many big name sequels as a teenager. I rarely watch previews or gobble up production materials, but working in the Big Apple this summer past, it was impossible to not see the posters at virtually every street corner and subway station, making it one of the more soul-sucking ad campaigns I've ever experienced. A shock, then, that the commercial overtones of the movie proper are only about 10% as blatant as I had anticipated. In all honesty, it also helped that the alcohol was flowing steadily and I was almost immediately hysterical at the trip-worthy sight of dozens of little blue fellas and their mushroom-centric village. The plot device that sees them transported to New York City - a wormhole of sorts that appears during a blue moon (natch) - is pure Happy Meal fodder, and the screenplay's smurftastic tendency to use "smurf" as as many prefixes and parts of speech as possible is more boring than irritating. Points, then, to the film's general goodheartedness (provided primarily by the plot threads concerning Clumsy smurf), to Neil Patrick Harris (in general), and for Simpsons regular Hank Azaria, whose turn as the evil wizard Gargamel is some kind of slapstick genius. If the entire movie were as uninhibited and inventive as his performance, it could have been one for the ages. As it is, it's pleasantly inoffensive enough that I wouldn't mind letting my own offspring watch it.

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