Reviewed by: Blake Wilson
being an explorer
Demi Lovato … Smurfette (voice)
Mandy Patinkin … Papa Smurf (voice)
Julia Roberts … SmurfWillow (voice)
Michelle Rodriguez … SmurfStorm (voice)
Rainn Wilson … Gargamel (voice)
Gordon Ramsay … Baker Smurf (voice)
Joe Manganiello … Hefty Smurf (voice)
Jack McBrayer … Clumsy Smurf (voice)
Danny Pudi … Brainy Smurf (voice)
Dee Bradley Baker … Monty, Gargamel’s pet vulture (voice)
Frank Welker … Azrael, Gargamel’s pet cat (voice)
Ellie Kemper … SmurfBlossom (voice)
Ariel Winter … SmurfLily (voice)
Meghan Trainor … SmurfMelody (voice)
Bret Marnell … Snappy Bug / Handy Smurf (voice)
Brandon Jeffords … Cauldron (voice)
Kelly Asbury … Nosey Smurf (voice)
Jake Johnson … Grouchy Smurf (voice)
Gabriel Iglesias … Jokey Smurf (voice)
Tituss Burgess … Vanity Smurf (voice)
Jeff Dunham … Farmer Smurf (voice)
Patrick Ballin … Patient Smurf / Frank the Caterpillar (voice)
|Director:||Kelly Asbury—“Shrek 2” (2004), “Gnomeo and Juliet” (2011)|
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures|
In Smurf village, every Smurf has something that defines who they are. Whether if its’ being grouchy, nosey, hefty, vain or even jokey, each Smurf’s name gives us a pretty good idea of who they are. That is, except Smurfette. She’s named that, because, simply, she’s the only girl Smurf in existence. Or is she?
One day, Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato) goes walking in the woods and spots a mysterious pair of Smurf eyes. Curious about what it is, she starts walking towards the forbidden forest, only to be captured by the evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson). When rescued, Gargamel finds out that there is a secret Smurf village hidden in the woods. Smurfette is rescued, and convinces three of her friends, Brainy (voiced by Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Mangianello), and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) to try and find the village to warn them about Gargamel.
The interesting thing is, ***SPOILER*** once they reach the village, the Smurfs find out the inhabitants are all, girl Smurfs! ***END SPOILER***
Technically, the animation is vibrant and colorful. The character animation, while far from the best, in comparison to other animated films, does retain Peyo’s classic look. On the other hand, the background and effects animation is fantastic. Especially in the forbidden forest, there is lots of visual glamor and effects that really are amazing. A floating river, in particular, is one of the film’s visual highlights and would have made it interesting to see in 3D.
Voice acting is solid, though not the best. Michelle Rodriguez and Julia Roberts do fine work as two new characters, while Mandy Patinkin is a pitch-perfect Papa Smurf (he sounds just like Jonathan Winters, the previous voice of the character, before his passing 5 years ago). McBrayer’s spirited personality fits Clumsy well, also.
As for the story, the main plot of Smurfette finding her purpose as a Smurf does get out of focus for some of the ride, as a lot of the middle is focused on avoiding Gargamel and warning other Smurfs about him. However, the film maintains a solid pace through its 89 minute runtime. The film ends almost spectacularly. In a surprising twist, I will not spoil, a character’s brave decision leads to an ending that adds surprising emotional depth.
The only real annoying problem with the movie is its use of pop and rap songs in a few background moments. Meghan Trainor sings the ending song, “I’m A Lady,” which feels out-of-place in the movie’s otherwise whimsical feel.
The movie encourages the idea that who we are in the present matters much more than what we were in the past. And that message is shown in Smurfette’s character. As many Smurf fans know, she wasn’t born a Smurf. She was created by Gargamel to trap the other Smurfs. But Papa Smurf helped her change, and she became a true Smurf. Many times, Gargamel verbally claims that Smurfette is helping him succeed in his schemes, and that no matter how hard she tries, she can’t escape “her purpose.” But, ultimately, Smurfette knows she has changed and later affirms the idea that she is not what she used to be.
That is a message that regenerate sinners (true Christian believers) can relate to, and it applies to us today, as well. Satan tries to deceive us similarly with doubts and deceptions—and guilt about past sins. It’s true that we fall short of the glory of God, and nothing we can do on our own would be enough to escape that. But, thanks to Jesus, we do not have to dwell on who we used to be; it is who we are in Christ that truly matters—redeemed and spiritually born-again.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” —2 Corinthians 5:17
The idea of self-sacrifice plays an important role here, too. Smurfs risk their lives to save one another, and one character shows a daring act of self-sacrifice late in the movie. This is the kind of sacrificial love that Jesus encourages.
The Smurfs also stick by each other, regardless of any situation. They work through their problems together, and use each other’s strengths to work together efficiently.
Language: At worst, single uses each of “oh my gosh,” “dang” and “jeez”.
Adult Content: One Smurf is kissed repeatedly by a plant with lips. The only instance of sexual innuendo occurs when Papa Smurf and a female Smurf are trapped in a cage. Upon getting the idea of busting out, Papa says, “It’s time to rock the cage.” The female Smurf immediately replies, “Don’t be weird.”
Violence: Plenty of slapstick, Looney Tunes style violence. Gargamel gets beaten up multiple times, smashing against rocks, cauldrons, etc. A piranha bites him on the rear end, and other piranhas nearly do him and his pets in. Clumsy takes several pratfalls, landing on his face a few times. Brainy is kicked up in the air a few times. Plants repeatedly ingest Smurfs and spit them out to others, and they nearly consume Gargamel. Azrael the cat puts his claws briefly into Gargamel’s scalp. One character gets turned into a lump of clay (this scene may upset some younger viewers). Characters fall from ominous heights. Dragonflies breathe fire. Arrows are shot. A punching glove is used in a gag. A plant punches a Smurf. A male Smurf is kicked in between the legs.
Other: A few bathroom jokes—Gargamel’s last ingredient in a spell is a piece of cheese he found in his underpants. Someone mentions “talking out of your butt” and writes “Toot” on the whiteboard, suggesting breaking wind.
Then there’s the use of fantasy magic. Gargamel is the only one here who really uses it, this go round. Most of his “magic,” however, feels closer to a science lab (a lot of test tubes) than any real magic spells. Only at the end does he start to look like a dark wizard casting magic for a few moments. All of it is played out cartoonishly, and no incantations are said. A mysterious magic brings a character back to life, but its origin is not from any incantation or spell.
Finally, Smurfette and her friends lie and mislead Papa Smurf. While their reasons are well-intentioned, they still directly disobey Papa’s orders.
I watched “The Smurfs” on Boomerang years ago. I enjoyed it as a kid, and I thought of it as like a twisted, clever version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” When they came to the big screen in 2011, they were interesting, but I didn’t find them to be nearly as enjoyable as the TV cartoon series, itself. They also had some edgy content that felt very out-of-place with the characters’ more innocent original intentions.
This fully-animated reboot comes much closer to the spirit and whimsicality of that TV show. The characters have more of a charm and likability about them this time, and the story expands the Smurf universe in a way that is clever and interesting. It may repeat a few plot points from “The Smurfs 2” in 2013, but I found Smurfette’s story here to be more interesting, even if it’s not as developed as it could have been.
More importantly, after having reviewed a few “kids’ movies” on this Web site that had problematic and controversial content, I found watching “Smurfs: The Lost Village” to be like a breath of fresh air. Here is a true-blue (pun intended), old-fashioned kid’s movie that is both endearing and fun. And, I am happy to say, there is very little here for parents to be worried about. Some may object to the use of fantasy magic, but it’s not nearly as prevalent here as it was in the live-action movies. And it’s also important to note that the villain is the only character who really uses spells and cauldrons here—and he is clearly portrayed as evil.
Ultimately, “The Lost Village” is not deep or interesting enough to be as good as the best animated fare. But, for fans of the characters, or for a family movie night, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is adorable fun for kids, along with a couple of strong messages parents can discuss with their children afterward.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
…Children won't be blue with “Smurfs: The Lost Village”… a much-needed course correction for the franchise… [3½/5]
—Barbara Vancheri, The Arizona Republic
…an adorable movie for the entire family, with a strong Christian, moral worldview. …[4/4]
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…a rollicking story aimed exclusively at youngsters. …Frankly, the Smurfs: The Lost Village's creators do something really brave: They make a movie … just for kids.… [4½/5]
—Bob Hoose, Plugged In
…the film takes a redemptive turn and suggests that evil can be overcome by goodness… The ending is genuinely moving and was met with enthusiastic applause at the screening I attended. … [3/5]
—Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk
…a saccharine fantasy-adventure that’s sure to tide the tots over until a shinier one (Cars 3, anyone?) comes along to take its place… [C-]
—Joey Nolfi, Entertainment Weekly
…The small fry will enjoy it; their adult chaperones will feel blue. …Co-scripter Pamela Ribon introduces a pronounced feminist theme into the story similar to that of her most recent credit, “Moana.”…
—Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter
…A pure digital fantasy, with elegant and tactile animation, so it's more true to the Smurf spirit. …anyone who would go to this movie without children is seriously starved for entertainment…
—Owen Gleiberman, Variety
…The Lost Village's attempts to break down the insidious sexism of the Smurfs property is admirable and largely successful, cleverly twisting Smurfette's conceptual blankness into a positive by emphasizing that she can be anything she wants to be. …
—Keith Watson, Slant
…gets stuck in stereotypes… They blue it. …missed an opportunity to celebrate girl power. … [2/5]
—Ariel Scotti, New York Daily News
…A microwave meal of a kid’s film, consisting of tired tropes and bland platitudes. This particular village should have stayed lost. …
—Nick De Semlyen, Empire