The Smurfs (2011) – Movie Review for Parents
3 Star RatingUser Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review) Write a reviewBy Carey Bryson, About.com Guide
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Bottom line: The Smurfs is a CG animated and live action feature movie about the nostalgic little blue cartoon characters. Young children will think this movie is super smurfy. Contains some rude humor, a few suggestive jokes and lots of smurf language.
MPAA Rating: PG, for some mild rude humor and action
Guide age recommendation: 3+
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vergara, Hank Azaria as Gargamel
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Director: Raja Gosnell
Release Date: July 29, 2011
The Smurfs – Story Summary
The festival of the Blue Moon is about to begin, and things are going smoothly for the smurfs, but Papa Smurf sees a vision of the future that is quite disturbing. The vision begins to play out in real life, as Clumsy Smurf inadvertently leads the evil wizard Gargamel to the smurfs’ secret village. As they scramble to get away from the bumbling wizard, Clumsy goes the wrong way. Papa, Smurfette, Brainy, Gutsy, and Grouchy follow after him, and they all stumble upon a mysterious portal that sucks them away to a different realm — Central Park, New York City.
In a strange new “village” with Gargamel and his menacing cat Azrael hot on their heels, the Smurfs struggle just to survive. That is, until they find themselves in the cozy apartment of young married couple Patrick and Grace Winslow. Patrick is a clean cut marketing executive for the New York City based cosmetics company Anjelou, and kind and optimistic Grace is pregnant with their first child.
When they find that they have some little blue visitors, Patrick and Grace, well more so Grace, accept the Smurfs and even befriend them. Despite the fact that Patrick’s life is turned upside down and his big chance to succeed at work is put in grave jeopardy, he can’t turn his back on his new, true blue friends. He does his best to help them escape Gargamel and get the tools and potions they need to open a portal back home, but in the end, it may be that the smurfs have helped him even more than he helped them.
The Smurfs – Guide Review for Parents
The Smurfs movie is a been-there-done-that cross between Alvin and the Chipmunks and Enchanted. When you’re talking about a CG/live action movies, though, you know it’s not going to be an Oscar winner anyway, so the important questions are: Will the kids like it? Is it appropriate? and, Can the parents suffer through it?
The Smurfs is a definite winner for young children. The kids in our audience, including my three-year-old, were squealing with laughter during several scenes. The movie doesn’t blaspheme the Smurfs nearly as much as I thought it would, either. It’s not too bad to sit through for parents, and there are a few laugh out loud moments and even a bit of clever humor.
As is to be expected, some of that humor is of the rude sort. One example of this is when Gargamel uses a “chamber pot” (ice bucket) in the middle of a busy fancy restaurant. Also, if you’re a Smurf, this movie has some profanity. And even if you aren’t a Smurf, you might not love it if your kid yells out, “Son of a Smurf!” The movie contains a few instances of this type of Smurf cursing, along with substitutions of the word “Smurf” for about a million other things, so kids have a lot of choices in what to imitate.
Smurfette being the the only girl Smurf opens the door for some suggestive humor as well. Most notable is a “Walk This Way”/”Smurf Theme Song” mash-up in which some of the Smurfs rap about Smurfette and her “skirt hiked way up the knee.” Or, there’s also a Smurfette Marilyn Monroe spoof where her fellow Smurfs ogle as her new skirt flutters up due to air coming out of a vent.
*For more details about movie content, see the “overview” below. May contain spoilers.
The Smurfs – Content Overview
•Violence (Medium): The Smurfs features slapstick comedic violence wherein people and/or smurfs get in scuffles or endure various sorts of accidents that may cause considerable harm in real life, but not in a family comedy. Gargamel stomps all over the Smurf’s village. Gargamel is trying to capture the Smurfs and cage them so that he can use them to make a powerful potion. Mild violence breaks out at a toy store where kids mistake the Smurfs as toys, and Gargamel is also after them with a leaf blower. Also of note in this scene, Grace hits Azrael with her handbag. When they get fed up with him, a couple of Smurfs like to kick Brainy sending him flying.
•Scary Scenes (High): Some Smurfs find themselves briefly in perilous situations that may be slightly frightening to very young children. Also, some young children may be frightened or disturbed by a couple of scenes where Smurfs get captured, and in one instance are sent through an essence-extracting contraption. But, no Smurfs appear to be permanently harmed during the movie.
•Sex/Nudity (Low): Some suggestive jokes are made about Smurfette being the only girl. During one scene, Smurfette says, “I kissed a Smurf and I liked it.” A Marilyn Monroe spoof has Smurfette trying to hold her dress down as a vent blows air upward. A few fellow Smurfs stare with their eyes popping. A few Smurfs talk about Smurfette in a rap. Odile, Patrick’s boss, acts sexy and seductive when trying to make a deal with Gargamel.
•Drugs and Alcohol (Low) People are shown with wine/champagne at a couple of different events/restaurants in the movie.
•Language (Low): Profane phrases are used with the word “Smurf” substituted for the bad part: “Son of a Smurf!,” “Smurf me,” “What the Smurf,” and more like that. Also, there’s one possible use of the word “damn.”
•Disrespectful/Imitative Behavior (High): Many kids will come out of the movie imitating the smurfy way that the Smurfs like to substitute the word “smurf” for a gillion other words. In the movie, Gargamel uses magic and is determined to kidnap the Smurfs to make himself more powerful. Patrick’s boss is demanding and threatens to fire him. The Smurfs have various defining and sometimes imitative personality characteristics. Gargamel throws Azrael into possibly dangerous situations to make sure it’s safe for himself and asks, “Azrael, are you dead?”
•Sad/Unsettling Scenes (Low): The Smurfs are sad when they are far from home and miss their fellow Smurfs. Patrick is nervous about being a father.
•Movie Topics Kids Might Have Questions About: portals, magic, the history of the Smurfs, being fired from a job, the meaning of a “blue moon,” parenthood, pregnancy, advertising
Disclosure: The studio provided a free screening of this movie for review purposes.