Monday, August 8, 2011

The Smurfs


Strangely blue and just about three apples tall, the Smurfs just love to sing and dance while at work. They also have this weird habit of turning the word Smurf into an all-around sentence filler. Their preparation for the Blue Moon Festival is going pretty well until Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin) accidentally leads evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) to their neighborhood, which consequently causes everyone to flee. In all the commotion, six of them, Smurfette (Katy Perry) included, get sucked into a water vortex bringing them to New York. There they cross paths with Grace (Jayma Mays) and her husband Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), who just got promoted as VP and is under pressure from his boss Odile (Sofia Vergara) to come up with a marketing campaign due in two days. Together they help each other solve their respective problems while constantly trying to evade the evil wizard who is determined to extract their essence to make him more powerful.

This movie is reminiscent of the 90’s comedies that I enjoyed as a kid. You all know the formula: adorably cute characters team up with the clueless human sidekick to defeat the stereotypical antagonist who also serves as the movie’s comic relief. What makes The Smurfs stand out is the seamless integration of animation and live action, creating one movie adaptation that gives justice to the original comic book classic. The movie also makes it a point to pay homage to Peyo, the Smurfs’ creator, by presenting them as what we all know them to be: comic book characters... that were real all along, at least in the movie. This is funny because they actually treat the book, which is a plain comic book to us, as some sort of factual account of their existence.

An interesting thing to note is that the ensemble cast of live actors here are mostly TV personalities: Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), Sofia Vergara (Modern Family), and Jayma Mays (Glee). In fact, Hank Azaria seems to be the only movie actor here who usually appears on the big screen. Take note though that he is barely recognizable here because of the makeup and prosthetic nose. Perhaps it is because of this that the spotlight is not snatched away from those tiny blue creatures. They remain to be the stars of the show, even though Katy Perry is the only voice actor who actually has name recall.

This is a movie that kids would really enjoy. The lead characters are adorable. The human sidekicks are clueless but cooperative. The villain is evil but funny. We have seen this movie formula used and abused so many times already, but we could probably all concur that it never fails. Owing to its promotion as a family movie, of course everything ends well and happily, and it is almost assured that you would be leaving the cinema humming that La la la la la la song over and over again. An epilogue is presented through photos while the end credits roll. Some of them are funny, while most are sufficient enough to satisfy your curiosity as to what happened to the characters afterwards.

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