Director: Raja Gosnell
Writer: J. David Stern & 5 More Credits
Stars: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria
Voices: Jonathan Winters, Katy Parry, Alan Cummings
When I first saw the teaser trailer last year, I knew how Edwin felt when he would see superhero trailers–dread. Then I saw the trailer with Neil Patrick Harris–big fan–and felt a little hopeful. My spirits were raised by The Miami Herald’s three star review but then dashed with the “C” in Entertainment Weekly. So what do I say? This movie has been the most pleasant surprise of the whole summer; more so since we watched it in 3D.
Edwin & I have never vacillated so much on whether to watch a film more than this one. I think we finally decided to go because we had movie passes for the theatre and a Cold Stone Creamery coupon for after. Since the movie night was basically no cost to us, the only thing we had to lose was time. Thankfully, we didn’t.
Though the story involved many writers, it did not show in the final product. It is a straightforward fish out of water/trying to get home tale. The story is also self-referential to the Smurf “mythology” and makes fun of it a little: ninety-nine male Smurfs and only one female, don’t you find that song really annoying, so your nameless until your primary trait develops? As children’s movies go, there is a lot for adults to enjoy; based on the audience response, there is also a lot for the kids to enjoy as well.
The look of the film was also very good. Similar to Tron and Thor, the 3D effect comes most alive in the Smurf world; it enhances the experience. When the Smurfs are in New York the 3D takes a back seat except for a few great set pieces–especially the climatic battle with Gargamel (Hank Azaria). Also, the Smurfs are seamlessly brought into the real world and look exactly how we imagined they would look if they were real.
As for the acting, it’s appropriate to the film. Hank Azaria is great and over-the-top as Gargamel. Neil Patrick Harris & Jayma Mays–as the couple whose world is turned upside down by the Smurfs–are really good and do a good job of acting with things that aren’t there. The voice work is decent, with Jonathan Winters (Papa Smurf) coming out the best. Though big names inhabited the roles of Smurfette (Katy Perry) and Gutsy (Alan Cummings), they didn’t bring anything to it.
Again, this movie was a pleasant surprise. We thoroughly enjoyed it, and were happy that we watched it on the big screen. It’s a great family film that can be enjoyed by all. So even if you don’t have kids, go take a look at it on the big screen.