Film review: Smurfs: The Lost Village return to familiar territory and the kids will love it

Smurfs: The Lost Village is the third Smurfs movie in six years from Sony, though this latest adventure is a bit different from its predecessors.

The army of Smurfs in Smurfs: The Lost Village. Courtesy Sony Pictures Animation
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Smurfs: The Lost Village

Director: Kelly Asbury

Starring: Demi Lovato, Julia Roberts, Mandy Patinkin, Joe Manganiello

Three stars

Created by Belgian comic artist Peyo, the Smurfs are a cultural institution every bit as iconic as Asterix the Gaul or Garfield.

It is no surprise, then, that Hollywood, desperate for recognisable brands, has eagerly grabbed these little blue creatures. Smurfs: The Lost Village is the third Smurfs movie in six years from Sony, though this latest adventure is a bit different from its predecessors. Rather than mixing live-action with animated Smurfs, or setting the story in New York city, the studio has gone back to the drawing board by delivering a fully computer-animated feature.

Directed by Kelly Asbury, whose credits include Gnomeo and Juliet and Shrek 2, this film takes place entirely within the Smurfs' own world.

The story centres on Smurfette (voiced by singer Demi Lovato), the sole female Smurf, and the only one not named after a defining characteristic.

Keen to discover more about her heritage, she wanders into the Forbidden Forest, followed by fellow Smurfs Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello) and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer).

On the prowl there is the mortal enemy of the Smurfs, human sorcerer Gargamel (Rainn Wilson), who, together with his long-suffering cat Azrael and brutish bird Cornelius, plots to find the Smurf village, kidnap the critters and harness their essence to increase his own power.

As the title suggests, Smurfette discovers a lost village, which is entirely populated by female Smurfs. Their voices are provided by an impressive array of actors, including Julia Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Ellie Kemper.

There’s a pleasantly gentle humour that comes from this alternate race of feminist Smurfs, who believe they are the true originals.

The resultant plot is fairly basic, as Gargamel gets wind of this hidden settlement, and Lost Village certainly aims its brightly coloured fun towards younger viewers. The more adult elements of the previous films are abandoned in favour of pratfalls, pranks and themes about staying true to yourself. As for the voice talent, Homeland's Mandy Patinkin is the standout, as Papa Smurf – his warm tones are perfect to play the aged patriarchal figure.

One gripe, though, is the proliferation of pop music littering the soundtrack, including Meghan Trainor's I'm a Lady. Maybe this is what "the children" want these days, but it feels entirely at odds with the innocent vibe of Peyo's creation.

artslife@thenational.ae