Smurfs: The Lost Village

★ ★ ★

The new all Smurf, all-animated movie may be the most adult take on the pint sized blue creatures ever. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is a hero’s journey, a character in search of a purpose. It’s Joseph Conrad via Smurf Village. Smurfette’s “Heart of Darkness.”

Smurf fans know she is the only female Smurf, created by wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) from a lump of clay to sow the seeds of jealousy in Smurf Village. With the help of Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) she transformed, becoming a beacon of sweetness-and-light and the love interest of Smurfs everywhere.

The new story finds Smurfette voiced by Demi Lovato and pondering her place in the world. All the other perky pint sized blue creatures have descriptive names—Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), Jokey Smurf (Gabriel Iglasias) and Baker Smurf (Gordon Ramsey)—but what exactly, she wonders, is ‘ette’ supposed to mean?

Her quest of self-discovery leads to the Forbidden Forest where, for the first time, she sees others just like her, girl Smurfs with names like Smurfstorm (Michelle Rodriguez), Smurfwillow (Julia Roberts) and Smurfblossom (Ellie Kemper).

Unfortunately Gargamel, on the hunt for fresh Smurfs to drain of their essence so he can become the most powerful wizard in the world, takes note and makes a plan to invade this previously uncharted Smurf settlement. “If it wasn't for you,” Gargamel cackles to Smurfette, “I wouldn't have known about those other Smurfs!” With the help of Clumsy, the bespectacled Brainy (Danny Pudi) and strongman Hefty (Joe Manganiello) the plucky Smurfette sets off to sound warning bells.

First though, the little blue ones must navigate the perils of the Forbidden Forest, a colourful place where the flora and fauna are have minds of their own and aren’t happy to receive visitors. “Nice forest, nice flowers,” says Hefty. “Not nice flowers!” In the inevitable showdown between our heroes, the new Smurfs of the Lost Village and Gargamel, someone shouts, “Smurfette, why did you do this to us?” Gargamel’s chilling response?  “Because it was her purpose.”

There’s that word again, purpose. It’s at the heart of Smurfette’s journey. Is she a pseudo-Smurf, a former lump of clay masquerading as part of the tribe? Of course not. The story is one long set up for a feel good message about being anything you want to be and defying labels placed upon you by other people.

Along the way there is loads of gently paced action for young viewers, silly jokes and lots of ear-wormy songs.   

“30 Rock’s” Jack McBrayer naturally has the Smurfiest voice of all the Smurfs in Smurfdom but is supported by playful work from Wilson, Kemper, Manganiello and Lovato.

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” may have an adult subtext but unless a surfing pun—“Let’s go smurfboarding!”—cracks you up few over the age of fifteen will find the journey particularly engrossing. This is first and foremost a kid’s movie without the pop culture references that sometime add a layer of maturity to keep things interesting for parents. Older folks might want to put the kids to be and watch this as a drinking game. Do a shot every time one of the characters says the word “Smurf” and you’ll be blue in the face in no time.

3 STARS