Review: Smurfs The Lost Village is one for nostalgic fans — and under-fives

Smurfs: The Lost Village with Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) a

Smurfs: The Lost Village with Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Smurfette (Demi Lovato). Picture: Sony Pictures - Credit: Sony Pictures

Ditching live-action for a return to animation, the family-friendly comedy reboots the misadventures of the cute blue creatures created by Belgian illustrator Peyo.

Smurfs The Lost Village (U)

***

The Smurfs are very big on lessons and if we can learn anything from these 59-year-old cartoon cash cows, it is an essential lesson about the true nature of capitalism and economic success – it's all down to dumb luck.

In the 1950s a Belgian illustrator calling himself Peyo drew up a few blue garden gnomes and invented a slightly twisted mythology to support them; gradually the world inexplicably came to embraced them as cute and adorable. Now they are held in such affection that this cash cow almost milks itself. Almost but not quite.


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Sony have the rights now and after a couple of live action efforts have flipped over into a straightforward computer animation version, which is probably for the best.

It's pretty meagre stuff compared to the stuff Disney and Pixar are turning out but it seemed to hit the spot. The screening I attended opened with lots of laughter but within five minutes that had all subsided. I wondered if they were all bored by it but looking round I could see loads of under-fives with their eyes fixed on the screen, all blissfully quiet.

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Afterward, the three grown up Smurfs fans I brought along, for whom Smurfs were a nostalgic childhood memory, announced themselves delighted with it all, so if you are in the target audience I think you'll appreciate this.

Personally, I was bored stiff but then I have no connection with the material. Going in, all I knew about Smurfs was the Donnie Darko's monologue about their social structure and some dim reminiscences of their 70s pop career, in support of Father Abraham.

So I was grateful that this latest film opens with a recap in which Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) explains that the smurfs live in a village where they all behave according to their name – Nosey, Clumsy, Bashful, Sneezy, etc.

The only female presence in this Eden is Smurfette (Demi Lovato), who was made out of clay by the evil sorcerer Gargamel (Raine Wilson.) Her lack of a nominatively determined role in the smurf social hierarchy and the nature of her origins are a source of shame for her, though they seem preferable to presumably being asexually spawned by Papa Smurf. Such guff would normally be hard to take but when it is voiced by TV's Saul Berenson from Homeland, you go with it.

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