Smurfs: The Lost Village – A Step in the Right Direction

Hi there folks, it’s MovieManDan here again with another review. Anyone who knows me knows that I dreaded Sony’s last two attempts at bringing these characters to the big screen and so, of course, I was really not looking forward to the experience of checking out yet another ‘Smurfs’ film in theatres but yet here I am with my review.  Thankfully, this one is actually passable thanks to some much needed changes but we’ll get to that…

Plot: “Smurfs: The Lost Village” follows Smurfette (Demi Lovato) and her best friends, Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (Joe Manganiello) as they are set on a exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest when they discover a mysterious map and an unusual looking Smurf hat that has been dropped in the woods.  From here, the Smurfs discover a group of mystical creatures and plants as they rush through the forest followed in close pursuit by the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) who is also interested in the chance of discovering a lost village of “Smurfs”.  To add to this journey, Smurfette is going through a bit of an identity crisis as she is having trouble fitting in with her fellow Smurfs – and without a dominant trait to define her – her origin story is beginning to haunt her.

Review: With “Smurfs: The Lost Village”, director: Kelly Asbury (whose previous features include: “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron”, “Shrek 2” and “Gnomeo & Juliet”) and gang wisely chose to ditch the live action elements of the first two big screen ‘Smurf’ adaptations to instead follow the lovable blue creatures on an adventure more faithful to the source material this time around. Yes, that’s right, the ‘Smurfs’ franchise is finally back to its animated roots. This film serves as a reboot of sorts to the Sony ‘Smurf’ franchise with none of the characters in the film acknowledging any of the events from those first two films. What a relief.  They still haven’t made a good ‘Smurfs’ film here but they actually listened to some of the complaints from moviegoers for once and as a result we have an decent, albeit mediocre, movie for the kids to see.

For those who are thinking of the old 80’s TV show, this movie doesn’t completely nail that same feeling but does come close and as a result, wasn’t all that bad. ‘The Lost Village’ while flawed and predictable was extremely well animated, features some pretty solid voice work from its entire cast and is actually not all that painful to sit through.  The addition of a new village with some mystical elements – provided some interesting new creatures and was about as colorful and vibrant as the new “Trolls” film.   Likewise, with a fitting 90-minute run-time, it kept moving at a steady pace and didn’t mess around with unnecessary sub plots. While younger children were the film’s target audience it should still manage to hold people’s attention thanks to its flashy colors, fast pace and solid animation.

Like with “The Boss Baby” from last week though, this one is strictly for kids and didn’t have much to offer for the adults aside from a couple lines of “adult” humor.  In terms of complaints, this movie, like the last movies, only focused on a small group of the smurf characters and that was a shame as it always seemed to be the same 4-5 characters that get put into these films. They have all of the Smurfs in Smurf Village to work with but they always pick the same characters to go on adventures with for some reason.  It would have been nice to switch things up a bit here but fans have their favorites and that seems to be why they are constantly used time and time again.  Likewise, most of the humor, like with the previous films, consisted of dumb slapstick gags that weren’t all that funny.  Finally, there were also a couple pop songs used in certain scenes that just didn’t fit well and had little impact on the overall film.

My Score & Verdict: 2.4 out of 5.0 Stars – “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is a much needed reboot for the Sony ‘Smurf’ franchise and while it’s not a ‘good’ movie by any means – it’s more than serviceable for its target audience and much much better than the live action films that came before it.  The animation was good with some colorful new characters and worlds to explore which made it feel like an extended episode of the 80’s TV series, the voice acting was solid, and there was a nice message for the kids in there as well.  Likewise, it’s a fast paced film with lots of energy, making the running time just fly by. Those who make up the target audience will have a good time with this one despite being generic, easily predictable, almost instantly forgettable and not offering enough for anyone other than the children in the audience.

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