It was the best of times, it was the Smurft of times. There, with that out of the way we can safely avoid all future punning. What will be impossible for you to avoid, should you take on this mission, is about 100 minutes of physical comedy. Pratfalls and kicked CGI cats, Smurfs being tossed to and fro. Still, this is to be expected, and for the young humans amongst us these moments should prove relatively hilarious. For the adults in the room? I remained unmoved.
Before we break down the plot of The Smurfs, let's pause for a moment to reflect on the 3-D aspect of the film. It's pointless, completely superfluous, devoid of any value to the consumer. It's as if we've been asked to pay a toll for a road that we don't want to drive on. Why do I need equipment to watch a film? I'm there to be entertained, or enlightened, and wearing glasses for average 3-D does neither. Ugh, enough already. /Rant
As for the plot of The Smurfs, it's relatively straightforward. Gargamel, the evil wizard in Smurf-land, attacks the Smurfs on their own territory. Through the magic of product placement they are transported to New York City. Gargamel (played by Hank Azaria in massive levels of makeup) follows them, along with his excellently evil cat, so it's fortunate the Smurfs are taken in by Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays. Smurfette, Papa Smurf, Grumpy, Clumsy, and Gutsy are the five smurfs on the run, and they use "smurf" for every third word or so. The gang needs to escape back to their enchanted village, while Gargamel wants to extract their magical blue essence for use in his spells. Clearly, we're not dealing with anything too complicated here.
Still, to its eternal credit, The Smurfs at least realizes how logically out of place it is for this generation.
The "smurf for every sentence" topic is discussed, and Smurfette's disparate gender is considered. Tim Gunn makes an appearance, as does Madison McKinley, she of "I wore fangs on The Bachelor" fame (which, for the record, was amazing). The fact that The Smurfs basically admits to the adults, "We know, we know" leaves one less bitter. They aren't peddling Pixar, but they aren't pushing Poppers either. A basset hound makes a prominent appearance. We can build on this.
What doesn't really fly is the cat vomit scene. And the occasional potty humor. Product placement and 3-D have already been mentioned, but they'll feel overtly annoying should you enter the theater with your child. But for all the film has going against it, it never reaches the true depths of despair. They made about 100 Smurf jokes, but they left another 100 on the table. The CGI cat was fun, and likely saved them from a Humane Society lawsuit. Hank Azaria deserves a paycheck after his years of service. Finally, Neil Patrick Harris is impossible to work up a good hate for, he's the perfect Smurf liaison to the real world. Once the solid factors are considered The Smurfs ends up being just below average, it won't give you nightmares, and small ones might dig it. Smurfs up.*
*Sorry, that's terrible.