The Smurfs review (Blu-ray)

In the language of the world that this film inhabits, it's all too tempting to describe it as "a smurfing great pile of smurfing smurf". But that would be too easy. Because in the world of the kids' film, The Smurfs 3D is not all that bad. The big question is, though: which particular kids has it been made for?

The Smurfs – created by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, aka Peyo – were a Saturday morning cartoon favourite back in the 1980s, produced by Hanna-Barbera. The series ran around the world for most of the decade, but since then, all's been pretty quiet on the Smurfs front. Until now. Which brings me back to my original question – just who is this movie for? It's been made, and marketed, as a kids' film, but today's children wouldn't have a clue who the Smurfs are. It's their parents who grew up watching the little blue buggers, so you'd think that they would possibly be the target audience, for the sake of nostalgia, but it's not really aimed at them, either.

So for those who decide that this film is for them, what they'll see when they buy the Blu-ray and take their seat on the couch is the story of a bunch of little blue creatures "just three apples high" who, while trying to escape from the evil wizard Gargamel (Azaria), get sucked through a portal and end up in New York. There they befriend an advertising executive (the always terrific Harris) and his pregnant wife (Mays), and begin their quest to reopen the portal and return to their enchanted forest. But making things a bit trickier are Gargamel and his feline sidekick, who have followed the Smurfs through the portal and are continuing their endevour to catch the little fellas and suck out their essence (it's some kind of liquid Viagra).

The Smurfs is directed by the man who made the Scooby Doo and Beverly Hills Chihuahua films, so don't expect anything clever as far as story or character development go. The human characters are all fine, but Azaria mugs shamelessly, performing as though he's in a Christmas pantomime. The blendng of the CGI and live action is pretty perfect, as you'd expect – CGI these days is getting to be nigh on perfect. And the 3D is decent, although for the most part unnecessary. It's a mediocre movie, that's saved by the terrific Harris giving it his all – although that's not enough to raise it above the ordinary. Young kids will enjoy it for its cute characters and bright colours, even if they don't know who the smurf the Smurfs actually are. And their parents will snigger at the rude words that are so cleverly disguised by the scriptwriters, who replace words such as shit and fuck with "smurf". I just wish they would decide whether smurf is an adjective, noun or verb ...

EXTRAS ★★★★ The best feature is Smurf-O-Vision Second Screen, which gives you the opportunity to interact with the movie, on an iPhone or iPad, while it's playing on your TV (with a special free app you download). It's very cute and loads of fun. The rest of the bonus features consist of two audio commentaries – the first with director Gosnell, the second with producer Jordan Kerner, writers Stem,  Weiss, Scherick and Ronn, and VFX supervisor Richard Hoover; five deleted and extended scenes; the featurette The Smurfs: Comic Book to The Big Screen (8:15); the featurette Smurf Speak: Meet the Cast (9:26); the featurette Going Gargamel (9:57); the featurette Happy Music Montage (1:49); a short gag reel, called Blue-pers (0:25); progression reels (9:14); and The Smurfs fantastic Adventure Game. And, because this is a Double-Play release, you also get a DVD copy of the film.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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