Julia Roberts and Mandy Patinkin in Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017)
SMURFS: THE LOST VILLAGE (Kelly Asbury). 90 minutes. Opens Friday(April 7). See listing. Rating: NNN
After two disastrous flirtations with live-action and Neil Patrick Harris, the Smurfs return in a much-improved, all-animated, Harris-free third edition. Too bad Trolls might have stolen much of the thunder from the blue Belgian critters. Smurfs: The Lost Village has a plot and trippy visuals similar to last November’s Timberlake-infused day-glo musical, which is probably just coincidence since both movies would have been in production at the same time.
Trolls is the better movie. Smurfs is creaky, pandering and overly familiar. But it’s still fun, peppy and fluorescent enough for its target under-7 audience. And this one comes with a heavy dose of girl power.
The new instalment, written by Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon (Moana), is hell bent on recognizing everything that’s wrong with the source material and course correcting.
They zero in on Smurfette’s isolation in Smurf village’s leering sausage party. While all her male counterparts have names like Brainy to signify who they are, Smurfette (Demi Lovato) is set apart merely for being the girl. Here she’s designed to be more complex and fluid than her one-note counterparts. That’s before she lands in a lost village filled with tough female Smurfs, voiced by Michelle Rodriguez, Julia Roberts and Meghan Trainor among others.
That this comes off as progressive probably says more about how backwards the Smurfs have been all these years.