In their familiar 1980s cartoon incarnation — as with most other properties turned into films during Hollywood's ongoing molestation of our collective nostalgia — were always horrible. So there has to be something intensely masochistic about buying tickets for a frantic, formulaic 100-minute dollop of hell like this one, in which the familiar blue faces — now in CGI — form-fly through a vortex from their Smurf village to New York City, where they can be a problem for an overworked, soon-to-be-first-time-dad marketing executive (Neil Patrick Harris).
As directed by Raja Gosnell (the twoScooby-Doomovies, plus Beverly Hills Chihuahua), it hits every required element for such movies: musical number, toilet gags, rib-nudging pop-culture references, sloppy sentimentality.
It's not even possible to work up a good hate towards something like The Smurfs, because audiences continue to lap up anything with a familiar brand name and an inescapable marketing campaign. So we'll all meet again in 2013, when America will throw good money after bad for the feature film incarnation of Thundarr the Barbarianor Snorksor Foofur. Grade: D-
Opens July 29. Check out theaters and show times, see the trailer and get theater details here.