Remember those little blue plastic figurines we used to get free with our petrol in the seventies? Well, they now have their own computer-animated/live action movie, which is something of a step-up from their previous cinematic outing, the 1976 cartoon The Smurfs And The Magic Flute.
The Smurfs – originally created by artist Peyo for a comic strip in 1958 – live happily in an enchanted forest, hidden away from human eyes, but when they are discovered by evil sorcerer Gargamel (Azaria), a handful of them plop through a magical portal and find themselves on the mean streets of New York. Luckily, they end up in the home of kindly ad man Patrick (Harris) and his missus Grace (Glee’s Jayma Mays), but Gargamel and his cat Azrael are still on their trail, and they also have to figure out a way to get back home.
Slickly made, this adventure has some nice touches – in NY toy store FAO Schwarz the Smurfs are mistaken for moveable toys, and Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry) discovers in the doll aisle that she could have a different dress than the one she has worn every single day of her life – and some neat nods to their odd little story (“I’m Papa Smurf. I have 99 sons and one daughter – nothing weird going on there,” taunts Gargamel). But there are also rather too many product placements, an annoying Smurf rendition of ‘Walk This Way’, and a lack of genuine magic about the whole thing that will disappoint parents. Harris, meanwhile, and Sophie Vergara (as his feisty boss) are wasted, so it’s up to Azaria to deliver most of the laughs (and he is a scream, especially when he uses the steam from manhole covers to make a dramatic entrance). Young kids will love it, though – after all, the little blue guys are cute – and for the rest of us, we at least get to hear that annoying/endearing Smurf song from our childhood one more time.
Is The Smurfs suitable for kids? Here are our parents’ notes...
The under-6s may find Gargamel scary throughout.
Towards the end of the movie, Gargamel captures Papa Smurf, which may frighten little ones.