The Smurfs

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Smurfs Movie Poster Image
Not enough bright spots in disappointing adaptation.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 6+
Based on 81 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that although there's nothing overtly upsetting in The Smurfs, you can expect some potty-type humor and some cartoonishly violent scenes involving bad guy Gargamel and his cat Azrael in this adaptation of the beloved childhood cartoon. 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 w... Continue reading
Adult Written bygeat October 11, 2011

sooo violent!!!

i guess i didn't take the PG serious enough, was just thinking about the old smurf cartoons... i wish now i would have. i took my daughter who will turn 3... Continue reading
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... Continue reading
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 child... Continue reading

What's the story?

In the enchanted Smurf Village, THE SMURFS, 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?

Despite a few laughs, this adaptation of one of the most popular Saturday-morning cartoons in U.S. history is only going to appeal to families with Smurf-obsessed kids. 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 director Raja Gosnell's 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 here, and physical comedy is hard to resist sometimes. 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."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of remaking old cartoons like The Smurfs 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

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