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When the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble through a portal from their magical world of sunshine and rainbows into ours - in the middle of Central Park. When Clumsy (Anton Yelchin) is trapped in a carton belonging to newly promoted advertising executive Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) as he prepares a new campaign for an upmarket cosmetics firm, Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) and four of his children find their way into his apartment. Gargamel is quick to find them however, accompanied by his tabby cat assistant Azrael and it is up to the Smurfs to quickly find a way to avoid Gargamel's evil intentions and return safely to their village.

Review by Louise Keller:
A smurfection of blue cutedom, The Smurfs (in 2D and 3D) makes good the promise that feeling blue can be a happy thing. There's something intrinsically likeable about these little blue creatures whose origins emanate from the pen of Belgian artist Peyo, who created the popular comics Les Schtroumpfs in the 50s. What could be more apt than to take the Smurfs, standing three apples-high and transport them to the Big Apple in a chuckle-filled, lively fish-out-of-water animated live-action adventure.

While there's nothing revelatory about this kiddy-friendly tale with themes about family and believing in yourself, the film has a sweet innocence, complemented by the presence of Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick, a marketing executive in an uptown cosmetics firm. There's also the despicable evil wizard Gargamel, played by an over-the-top Hank Azaria, complete with rabbit teeth, Friar-tuck haircut, honker nose and theatrical cape. His tabby feline assistant Azrael (a combo of CGI wizardry and four real cats) is equally OTT: I watched with horror and fascination.

The story begins among the colourful toadstools the Smurfs call home, where happy blue faces prepare for the Festival of the Blue Moon. The portal that transports Papa Smurf (Winters) and five of his many offspring into Central Park offers 3D opportunities with the film's heart centering on the mishaps of the fittingly-named Smurf Clumsy (Yelchin), who dreams of bettering himself. Adventures include toy store mayhem, havoc in Times Square, Smurfette (Perry) wearing Marilyn's Seven-Year-Itch dress and there's a lovely moment between Papa Smurf and expectant father Patrick, in praise of fatherhood.

The Smurfs' catchy theme-song gets a good work-out, while the script spits out Smurfisms like 'Oh my Smurf', 'Where the Smurf are we?' and 'Let's get Smurfing'. Yes, everything turns out Smurfy as these little blue critters put us in a happy place.
First published in the Sun-Herald.

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(US/Belgium, 2011)

CAST: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria

VOICES: Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Alan Cumming, George Lopez, Paul Reubens, Kenan Thompson, B. J. Novak, Jeff Foxworthy, Wolfgang Puck, Fred Armisen (and Joe Urban as the weightlifting convict - uncredited)

PRODUCER: Jordan Kerner

DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell

SCRIPT: J. David Stern, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, David Ronn


EDITOR: Sabrina Plisco

MUSIC: Heitor Pereira


RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Tasmania: September 1; Qld: September 8, all other states September 15, 2011

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