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.
For those of us who grew up with Pee-wee Herman, this new Netflix original movie will have you jumping for joy. Paul Reubens embraces his odd and slightly creepy man-child alter ego in this very corny and very funny movie. He stays true to the character so long-time fans never fear: you won’t be disappointed. The opening sequence of Pee-wee waking up in the idyllic town of Fairville (a town he’s never desired to leave) and getting ready to go to work is classic. It’s so colorful and inventive and fun that it instantly put a huge grin on my face. From there the film keeps up with its absurdly silly sight gags and corny jokes — for the most part. I am willing to overlook some of the more unsuccessful bits (the alien friend, the flying car) because the ones that work are so great.
Adding to the camp factor is hunky Joe Manganiello (starring as himself), hamming it up with an amusing deadpan delivery. Pee-wee thinks Joe is too cool for words and sets out on a cross-country adventure when he’s invited to his new friend’s birthday party in New York City. Along the way, Pee-wee briefly meets all sorts of oddball folks (if this plot sounds familiar, it is: this film retreads territory covered in the 1985 classic “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure“). But it’s a formula that works. Still, this film could’ve benefited greatly from having actual movie star cameos in all the small roles throughout (guess their budget was too small), but the no-name supporting actors are still enjoyable.
This is a very specific brand of humor and you’ll either find it immensely comical or you won’t crack a chuckle. If you loved any of the other Pee-wee movies or the television show “Pee-wee’s Playhouse,” you are sure to adore this latest installment of the grey suited, white loafered, red bowtied character. It’s filled to the brim with sweet nostalgia for the over-30 crowd but is also appropriate for everyone in the family. Parents, this is a great way to introduce your kids to Pee-wee.
This new original movie can be viewed exclusively on Netflix.
Pee-wee Herman is back, you guys! And in a movie! One that you can watch at home, right now, if you have Netflix!
Despite many years having passed since the last time he visited the big screen, Paul Reubens slips comfortably back into Pee-wee’s shoes and it feels like he never left. This story is classic Pee-wee: after a chance meeting with cool-guy actor Joe Manganiello (who plays himself in the film), Pee-wee realizes that he is somewhat stuck in a rut with his job and his life and decides to set off across the country on a road trip to visit Joe in New York City. Along the way, he meets a series of unusual and eccentric characters that help him broaden his horizons and take in new experiences.
This is movie is charming and, at times, extremely funny. One scene in particular had us laughing so hard that we had to rewind and re-watch what we missed. It’s a great choice for family movie night (the movie is appropriate for kids — there are some slightly risqué jokes but they will fly right over kids’ heads) and a great way to revisit a beloved character.