Like most people (don’t deny it), I maintain a list of personal qualities and experiences that I periodically consult to remind me how awesome I am, especially when I’m feeling insecure or depressed. I’ve gone skydiving in Cuba! I’ve sung “Message in a Bottle” onstage with Stewart, Andy and Sting!! My personal knowledge of pointless Star Wars trivia is unsurpassed!!! But when the opportunity to catch an advance screening of “The Smurfs in 3D” fell into my lap, I knew my sacred list would have to be expanded. How could any other human being ever top this? What other social hierarchies are there left for me to climb? It’s like I’m atop the summit of Everest now, staring down at the rest of you losers stuck at basecamp. Seriously, if you see me on the street, don’t even bother saying hello, cause I won’t acknowledge you. I’ve become THAT important.
Receiving an A-list invite is life-changing, but it apparently isn’t for everyone. How else to explain the responses to my generous Facebook invitation — extended far and wide — for some other lucky soul to accompany me on my cinematic journey? Some sample responses:
“I’d rather be hit in the eye with a racquetball.”
“No way am I going to that steaming pile of poop.”
“I’d totally go, but I have to clean the hamster cage with my tongue.”
“I would go with you, except I’m not six or retarded, so I’m not the target audience.”
See what I mean? People are intimidated by opportunities like this. They just feel unworthy. Oh well. It’s their loss.
Anyway, in case you were wondering, this movie BLOWS.
No, not in the erotic Smurfette-blows-sweet-kisses-in-my-ear sense. And honestly, not even in the I-think-I’ll-blow-chunks-of-hot-dog-out-my-esophagus sense either. Rather, it blew the opportunity to answer a question that has long perplexed all right-thinking people: Why in the world should anyone care about a handful of weird, blue, asexual, fashion-impaired, linguistically-challenged dwarves who run around the forest singing songs? And this is a shame, for an answer would be helpful. While I don’t pretend to totally “get” a lot of what passes for children’s entertainment these days, at least in most cases, I can sort of imagine the appeal. My Little Ponies can fly through the air, and they have awesome names like “Starsong,” “Pinkie Pie” and “Sweetie Bell”. Mermaids and Fairies possess useful aquatic or avian skills, and they look pretty hot while showcasing them. Thundercats are about THUNDER and CATS!!! But if I didn’t know any better, and you told me the Smurfs had potential as a successful franchise, I’d tell you you’re on drugs.
The basic problem I had with this movie was not that the acting or the writing was bad. In truth, they weren’t. The latter was merely mediocre, the former respectable. There were no truly cringe-worthy moments of dialogue. (Hank Azaria as Gargamel undoubtedly gave the best performance). I didn’t even mind the 3D, despite my general dislike of the format. My problem was simply that it was about the Smurfs. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL ME? If I had known, I wouldn’t have gone.
Because I couldn’t care less about the plot or characters, I found my mind wandering to observations that were peripheral to the story:
— Good for Katy Perry that she found vocal work, but I wondered why she bothered, since Smurfette barely had anything memorable to say. I hope the money was good.
— Neil Patrick Harris can be funny, but I wish he’d remind us of this more often, with better material.
— I’m glad that the guidance counselor from Glee is expanding her acting resume, but as the same old bubbly airhead we know and love (albeit with less insecurities), she needs to stretch herself more.
In the end, I even tried to spot evidence of the the movie’s alleged totalitarian sympathies and veiled anti-semitism, just for kicks. Alas, even that wasn’t as fun as it probably sounds.
Would I recommend this film for young children? Sure. It’s harmless, and sometimes fun. Gargamel’s cat, Azreal, had my 4-year-old daughter in stitches with his CGI-created facial contortions. But bring your iPad along, just in case you lose interest, so you can play Angry Birds. And then imagine you’ve replaced the pigs with the Smurfs, that your bird-hurling facilitates their slaughter, and it will dawn on you that maybe you’ve finally found a use for the Smurfs after all.