In one of the most simplistic animated films that’s come along in a great while, “Smurfs: The Lost Village” knows its audience and plays directly to it. This kid-friendly film seems to be geared towards toddlers and is very reminiscent of the old “Teletubbies” television show (I think its PG rating is a bit too harsh, even with the mild rude humor and action pieces). The scenes are so rapidly paced and elementary plotted that this movie will manage to hold the attention of those with even the shortest of attention spans, all while boring the adults silly.
Smurfette (Demi Lovato) is given the starring role this time around as she leads a group of her friends through the Forbidden Forest to find a lost village of Smurfs. Of course the menacing wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) is still trying to capture the little blue creatures for himself. The voice actors are lame too, which really hurts the movie (the worst of the bunch are the irritating Jack McBrayer as Clumsy Smurf and Joe Manganiello overplaying it as Hefty Smurf). There are some mild lessons about dismissing gender conventions and educating yourself by exploring different cultures, but most of these themes will likely sail right over the heads of your little ones.
Parents and other grown ups, be warned that there’s not much here for you to enjoy: this is an animated movie that’s unapologetically 100% geared towards and made explicitly for the kiddos. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but bucking the trend of tongue-in-cheek adult jokes and pop culture references that dominate animated films these days is more than a little unexpected.
Also unexpected is the quality of the animation. It’s much better than it needs to be, cheerfully bright and colorful with a tactile, dreamlike appearance that’s quite irresistible. What a shame that the film itself is not. It’s predictable and wholly mediocre, an overall flat exercise that’s better suited for Saturday morning t.v.