Anyone 6 years old and younger will find “Smurfs: The Lost Village” a fun romp through the forest accented by the mild kind of danger that only Gargamel can provide. There’s nothing wrong with aiming a film at the very young demographic but it does increase the odds the production will fall on its Smurf with those who accompany the youngsters.
In contrast to animated offerings like “Zootopia,” “Sing,” “Storks,” “The Secret Life of Pets” and even the so-so “The Boss Baby,” the script from Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon lacks the second layer of maturity that opens the movie to a larger audience. An animated film doesn’t have to embrace mature topics but needs to have something other than colorful scenery and the endless chatter of the main characters.
The closest comparison would be the recently released “Trolls.” That film most definitely banked on the high energy and wide visual spectrum to entertain young moviegoers. But, it had just enough jokes for adults and a solid soundtrack anchored by Justin Timberlake to increase the potential for the film.
Most notable of the music by Christopher Lennertz in “Smurfs: The Lost Village” are the few notes sung from the TV theme song. That includes the tune “I’m a Lady” by Meghan Trainor who also is the voice of Smurf Melody.
“Smurfs: The Lost Village” has little else. This film has such a narrow band of appeal, it comes across more like a direct-to-video release that got hijacked on the way to the store.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) wants to round up Smurfs to take their essence and use it to become a mighty wizard. His plan might actually work this time as Smurfette (Demi Lovato) and a few of her Smurfiest friends lead Gargamel to a secret village of Smurfs.
As with the plot of 90% of the Smurf cartoons, Gargamel chases and chases the Smurfs, catches a few and then it is up to the Smurfs to escape before meeting a bitter end. You have to know where this is going if you are older than 6.
Director Kelly Asbury, whose last work was the with gnomes in “Gnomeo & Juliet,” has put together an impressive list of actors to voice the Smurfs. Along with Lovato and Wilson, the voice talent includes Ariel Winters, Julia Roberts, Mandy Patinkin, Jack McBrayer, Michelle Rodriguez, Gordon Ramsay and Joe Manganiello. They all do acceptable work but bring little more to the film than their name value.
If the celebrity casting is supposed to be the lure for older moviegoers then it is a miss. The only voice casting that really shines is Ellie Kemper as Smurfblossom, a Smurf who keeps talking until she’s blue in the face (or at least bluer in the face).
“Smurfs: The Lost Village” has a beautiful look and some of the new creatures are interesting. It’s just not enough to give the movie the kind of broad appeal that will make parents willing to keep going back to the movies.
The film’s not Smurfless but it’s not as Smurftastic as it should have been.