Aug. 03, 2011 - Issue #824: Folk Fest
The SmurfsThe Smurfs could've been foolish family fun, and when the movie begins in their little Euro-village, it is. But then a portal pops out of the script, whisking a certain wicked wizard and some blue-tinted midget-gnomes into our hyper-commercial world. As gamely as Hank Azaria grimaces as Gargamel, he always looks like he's been cast out from a medieval theme-park, sentenced to wander among city shoppers. And as the Smuppets take Manhattan, the script runs a blue streak of snappy self-marketing and sappy smurfimentalism. The indigo guys (plus doll-like Smurfette, joined by a doll-like human in Jayma Mays) ooh and awe at our capitalist wonderland, help Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) succeed in his perfume-marketing campaign, and ease his fears about fatherhood.
It's raining brands, from taxi ads and toy stories to reality-TV-judge cameos and the Smurfs' Wikipedia-entry and comics. It's all so calculatingly self-smurmotional. And in a movie trying so hard to be kid-friendly, the cloying nonsense about Patrick preparing to be a Papa seems to be targeting a niche adult market—Dads who love Oprah, maybe ... who the blue-balls knows? Not the makers of The Smurfs, who sapped most of the fun-essence from this flick as they artificially inseminated it with their business sense.
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