Smurfs: The Lost Village Review

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When the Smurfs discover that Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) is on the trail of a lost civilisation, they race to beat him there, facing rapids, glowing rabbits and existential crises en route.

★★★★★

When Avatar came out in 2009, one well-circulated quip posited that it was “Smurfs in space”. Now, eight years later, the circle is complete, with the latest adventure for everyone’s favourite sentient blobs of Blu Tack liberally nicking from James Cameron’s sci-fi epic. Not least in the moment where the four hero Smurfs — Clumsy (Jack McBrayer), Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Brainy (Danny Pudi) and Smurfette (Demi Lovato) — encounter an exotic forest glade lit up by Pandora-esque phosphorescent flora. Though thankfully the filmmakers stop short of having someone plug themselves into Gargamel’s cat. It only adds to the movie’s pervading feeling of staleness: even if this wasn’t the third Smurfs movie from Sony in seven years, it would feel uninspired, with a first-base plot and nondescript animation.

Worse, it’s a cartoon that strains for coolness with palpable desperation. Smurfs: The Lost Village not only features a “Smurfy selfie”, a Gordon Ramsay voice cameo and a xXx-style “Smurfboarding” scene, but boasts a Smurf with a tattoo who calls his cobalt cohorts “bro”. And if you’re wondering whether there’s a soul-deadening fart joke, the answer is yes, there is a soul-deadening fart joke. The pop-anthem-heavy soundtrack, too, suggests that the team behind this are more interested in coming off as down with the kids than crafting a compelling story.

Yes, there is a soul-deadening fart joke.

The starry voice cast, which includes Julia Roberts and Ellie Kemper, do their best with winky lines such as, “Sometimes I just feel blue.” But the only real standout is Rainn Wilson, who sounds like he’s having the time of his life as wannabe sorcerer supreme Gargamel. As said evil wizard pursues the Smurfs through The Forbidden Forest, bent on brewing them up into some kind of power-imbuing Smurf smoothie, Wilson cackles up a storm. It’s in these scenes that the movie comes alive. As for the rest of it, you’ll likely (sorry) just feel blue.

A microwave meal of a kid’s film, consisting of tired tropes and bland platitudes. This particular village should have stayed lost.