A merchandising opportunity in search of a movie, "The Smurfs" is the latest bastardization of a beloved cartoon franchise from Generation X's childhood. Like "Garfield," "Alvin and the Chipmunks" and "Yogi Bear," the filmmakers layer on the fancy computer animation but fail to add any soul into these stale leftovers.
Also like those other movies, "The Smurfs" unconvincingly pairs the CGI critters with live-action humans, resulting in the fakest person/Smurf hugs imaginable. I can't think why the people responsible for these types of movies feel it necessary to include live people, since the cartoon versions existed quite fine without them. The only answer I can come up with is a cynical one: It's cheaper, since it means they don't have to animate every second of the movie.
The story goes that several of the Smurfs get zapped from their magical land into real-world New York City, including Papa Smurf, Smurfette and some new guy named Gutsy, apparently a replacement for Hefty. They soon befriend Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), a humble Manhattanite.
Their old nemesis, the wizard Gargamel, chases them through the dimension whole. He's played (live-action) by Hank Azaria, who gnashes and clowns and cavorts, managing to bring what little entertainment value to be found in "The Smurfs."
Please note, "The Smurfs" will be released on video on Friday, Dec. 2.
Video extras are quite decent, and are available in three different versions. The DVD contains two commentary tracks, gag reel (dubbed Blue-pers), a music montage, a "Find the Smurfs" game and two making-of featurettes.
Upgrade to the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and you add deleted/extended scenes, another game, one more featurette and progression reels showing the stages of the animation process.
Go for the Holiday Gift Set, and you get an interactive pop-up feature and a new mini-movie based on Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
Movie: 1.5 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars out of four