The Smurfs

 
(i)

 

Not enough bright spots in disappointing adaptation.
  • Review Date: July 29, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 103 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

The movie is meant for amusement only, but the Smurfs do teach kids about teamwork, while Papa and the Winslows teach about the importance of putting family first.

Positive messages

The Smurfs offer positive messages about cooperation, teamwork, and family togetherness. Clumsy Smurf's transformation into a fearless hero is a great lesson that none of us is just "one thing," even if that's what we're most known for by our friends and family. On the downside, in one scene Gargamel calls an older woman a "hag" and uses magic to give her a younger, more bosom-y appearance, after which a group of people rave about her transformation.

Positive role models

Grace is kind and helpful, even though the Smurfs frighten her at first. Papa always thinks of his Smurfs first, himself second. The other Smurfs are optimistic and sweet. Patrick learns how to be a father from Papa Smurf.

Violence & scariness

Lots of pratfalls and cartoonish violence, mostly involving Gargamel, who's always trying to capture the Smurfs. Azrael the cat is often thrown into danger's way, after which Gargamel says "Are you dead?" to see if he made it. A climactic battle between Gargamel and the Smurfs (note -- possible spoiler alert!) causes a few minor Smurf injuries, but there's no blood or deaths. One sequence in which Gargamel finds Smurf Village might frighten very young children, since Gargamel destroys many of their homes and winds up driving them off into the enchanted forest. Azrael also coughs up Smurfette's hair in a rather graphic way that might gross out some viewers.

Sexy stuff

A married couple is affectionate -- holds hands, embraces, and eventually kisses -- in a short-and-sweet manner. Smurfette stands over a subway grate, Marilyn Monroe-style, but her Smurf "brothers" are more interested in the breeze. Grace is pregnant.

Language

The word "smurf" is used as a substitute for many other words, including curse words -- for example, "smurf off," "you smurfin' crossed the wrong smurf," "smurf me," etc. Also very sparing use of "damn" and "oh my God."

Consumerism

Many visible product placements, including Blue Man Group; Samsung Blu-Ray player, Apple computers, a prominent mention of M&Ms, Aerosmith Guitar Hero, CBGB, Bluetooth technology, FAO Schwarz, ALEX toys, Madame Alexander dolls, and references to Katy Perry's song "I Kissed a Girl" and Braveheart.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although there's nothing overtly upsetting in this adaptation of the beloved childhood cartoon, you can expect some potty-type humor and some cartoonishly violent scenes involving bad guy Gargamel and his cat Azrael. But no one is ever seriously hurt, and the Smurfs always triumph. The word "smurf" is used often as a substitute for other words, including, on occasion, curse words -- i.e. "smurf off!" or "smurf me."  Many brands are featured in the movie (usually if they have the word "blue" in them), as well as electronics and toy companies. While kids might pick up a few messages about positive teamwork and self-confidence, chances are they'll probably just laugh at the goofy pratfalls and jokes.

What's the story?

In the enchanted Smurf Village, a group of 100 little blue, gnome-like creatures live in a utopian bliss, preparing for a Blue Moon Festival. Meanwhile, evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his cat, Azrael, plot to find and destroy the Smurfs' hidden home. After Clumsy Smurf (voiced by Anton Yelchin) accidentally leads Gargamel to the village, the powerful Blue Moon creates a vortex that sucks in Clumsy, Papa (Jonathan Winters), Gutsy (Alan Cumming), Grouchy (George Lopez), Brainy (Fred Armisen), and Smurfette (Katy Perry), with Gargamel and Azrael tumbling in after them. They land in New York City's Central Park, where cosmetics executive Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) is throwing a party for his overbearing boss (Sofia Vergara). After Clumsy falls into one of Patrick's boxes, the other Smurfs follow him home and reveal themselves to Patrick and his wife, Grace (Jayma Mays). While the Smurfs attempt to find a way to conjure themselves back home, Gargamel tries to track them down and steal their powerful, youth-providing essence.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Despite a few laughs (physical comedy is hard to resist sometimes), director Raja Gosnell's adaptation of one of the most popular Saturday-morning cartoons in American history is only going to appeal to families desperate to beat the heat in an air-conditioned matinee. Even Harris, who has become one of those dependable movie savers in a string of comedies, and Azaria, who's a gifted, family-friendly comedian, can't save this live-action/CGI hybrid from disappointing nostalgia-seeking grown-ups and all but the youngest of kids.

On the smurfy side, there are a few decent one-liners, like when the Smurfs joke about their personality-named brothers left back in the village (nobody misses "Passive-Aggressive Smurf"), or look shocked when Patrick snaps an apparent expletive that only involves variations of the word "smurf." And, yes, Gargamel stomping around Manhattan with his faithful devilish cat has an inherent comedic appeal, but it's not enough to sustain a paper-thin plot. As Grouchy appropriately says at the end of the Smurfs' urban adventure, "I didn't hate it as much as I thought I would. But I still hated it."

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of remaking old cartoons into movies. Do you think the goal is to share the cartoons with a new generation or to appeal to grown-ups who remember the cartoons from their own youth?

  • What are the movie's messages? What do the characters learn over the course of the film?

  • If you've seen the old TV show, how does the movie compare? Do the characters seem the same?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 29, 2011
DVD release date:December 2, 2011
Cast:Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Neil Patrick Harris
Director:Raja Gosnell
Studio:Columbia Pictures
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:103 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some mild rude humor and action

This review of The Smurfs was written by

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 3, 6, and 9 year old Written byjengrammer July 29, 2011
 

Rude, sexualized smurfs

Using the word "smurf" as a substitute is still crude. I wouldn't want my 6 year old going around telling people to "smurf off". It was totally unecessary to do this. And the sexual innuendos were terrible to see. Smurfs wanting to look up Smurfette's skirt? Terrible. They took an innocent fun cartoon and did what they always do - sexualized it and made it rude and crude. No way I'm taking my kids to see this.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 14 years old Written byShelton W July 29, 2011
 

Don't You Agree Parents?

Entertaining,But Deep Down,Is This Really Funny?,I Say No!,And Why Would They Say OMG! In A Movie That's PG.What Is Wrong With Our Ratings These Days.Don't You Agree Parents?
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Kid, 12 years old July 30, 2011
 

A little crude but well-done.

I actually just saw this movie today. (SPOILERS FROM HERE ON) Gargamel's appearance and pillaging of the Smurf Village may be a little scary to young children, and the portal to NY scene. But this movie has very good messages in especially the end, when Clumsy, who usually ruins everything, saves the village. I put all icons but educational because some scenes are violent/scary. Patrick's wife is pregnant and some Smurfs make a deal out of looking up Smurfette's skirt. All cuss words are replaced with "smurf" but I still wouldn't like people telling me "Smurf you!" or whatnot. LOTS of product placement, like Blue Man Group and Blu-ray (get it?), Community (the TV show which is NOT appropriate for kids under 14), and a big plot is Patrick's ad campaign for his fictional company Anjelou. Patrick takes a glass of champagne. Overall, this movie has its ups and downs but is a great movie for grades 3-8.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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