The moment an animated Smurfs movie was announced, you could basically hear a collective groan released by a world that had suffered through two lackluster attempts to bring the magic of Peyo's animated creations into the world of live-action. And yet, underneath everyone's noses, Smurfs: The Lost Village managed to not only get made, but did so with a massively talented cast. However, the greatest surprise of this new film is the fact that the story tries to answer one of the biggest questions in Smurfs mythology, and does so in a pretty entertaining manner.
What is a Smurfette? It's a question that everyone in Smurf Village has on their minds, and even Smurfette (Demi Lovato) herself wonders just what makes her unique. The answers might lie in the Forbidden Forest outside of the village, and it'll take a journey with Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) to get to the bottom of the matter at hand. With the discovery of a new tribe of female Smurfs, and Gargamel hot on their tails, it's going to be, at the very least, an interesting journey for all involved.
Believe it or not, Smurfs: The Lost Village is the movie that should have been made the first time the Smurfs found their way to theaters. Tackling a question as big as why Smurfette is the only female Smurf is one sure fire way to branch out into new territory, while at the same time connecting with die hard fans of the original Smurfs TV series. But seeing as this is, above all else, a kid's movie, the plot does lend itself to some big set-pieces and comedic shenanigans throughout the film. The continuing misfortunes of Gargamel are of particular note, as not only does Rainn Wilson threaten to steal the entire film with his comedic timing, but it's also interesting to see his character engage in an environment that isn't his safe and secure castle.
Smurfs: The Lost Village also feels like a movie that would have been made during the show's heyday, as it pushes the boundaries of the typical Smurfs adventure, and sets up the universe for more entries into the series. And what a gorgeous universe it turns out to be too, as the film introduces a lot of different colorful characters that brighten up the scenery, while forwarding the story. Unfortunately, Smurfs: The Lost Village is a bit thin when it comes to the overall experience. It feels as if the film's script could have taken just one more brush pass, if only to beef up the thematic elements and even inject just a smidge more comedic energy.
However, these are mere gripes considering what we've seen Smurfs films of the past do to the franchise. With the efforts of Smurfs: The Lost Villiage, Sony Animation has taken a franchise that looked to be another Alvin and The Chipmunks style debacle, and walked it back to being closer to its source material. Lucky for the parents, the sum total of Smurfs: The Lost Village is pretty light-hearted and, much like Hefty Smurf, wears its heart on its sleeve. Serving as a fantastic introduction to a familiar property, the film serves new and old fans alike, while also challenging that world to be something more expansive.
Surprisingly enough, I can say that I'd love to see another trip to the animated Smurf Village in the future, if only to see what improvements a sequel would bring. It would have been easy to rest on the laurels of the Smurfs legacy, and merely produce an exercise in nostalgia-fueled whimsy, but Smurfs: The Lost Village gives folks an actual movie that reminds you of The Smurfs they grew up with, while also making them into something more exciting in the process. If you're a parent looking for a movie to take the little ones to this weekend, your best bet is probably Smurfs: The Lost Village. Though don't be surprised if you find yourself walking out of the theater and find that you enjoyed the film yourself.