Star Rating:

Smurfs: The Lost Village

Director: Kelly Asbury

Actors: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson

Release Date: Friday 31st March 2017

Genre(s): Animation, Family

Running time: 89 minutes

In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette (Demi Lovato) and her friends Brainy (Dany Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (Joe Mangianello) on an exciting race through the Forbidden Forest leading to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history. Chasing them is Gargamel (Rainn Wilson), who's intent on using the Smurfs for his own evil purposes.

For anyone over the age of 30, The Smurfs is a part of their childhood. Gargamel, the cat, Smurfette - it's all a part of our early childhood when we watched poorly animated cartoons on a three-channel TV on a Saturday morning. Like so many aspects of our then-childhood, it's now being gussied up and shoved out for people to pass on to those who now have kids. It's a smart enough idea, of course. You watched it as a kid, you now have kids, they watch it as kids. While that might work for some more well-known and more realised franchises and brands, The Smurfs was always light on details. They were small and blue and there was just one female Smurf in the village.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is a reboot, forgetting the dreadful live-action remake from a few years ago, that attempts to address some of the issues with the original Smurfs. While we still have the same faces and voiced by vaguely familiar TV actors - Homeland's Mandy Patinkin is Papa Smurf, Community's Danny Pudi is Brainy Smurf, pop singer Demi Lovato is Smurfette - the film does its best to provide a context and universe for The Smurfs. It's explained - taking from the original children's tales - that Smurfette was made by Gargamel to lure the Smurfs out so that he could kidnap them. Obviously, in this day and age, that kind of banal storytelling doesn't exactly fly anymore and people naturally recognise that it's sort of odd that there's only one female in an entire village of male Smurfs. This is where the so-called Lost Village comes in, as we soon discover that there's another band of Smurfs loitering just over a wall and beyond a "forbidden forest", which our heroes have to wade through before they arrive at said Lost Village.

Evidently, the film is an attempt to keep The Smurfs relevant for a new generation and updating it for the modern age, and while it's a noble attempt to include approximately 52% of the world's population into the film, there really isn't enough here to keep anyone above the age of 5 or 6 interested. The voice acting is dull and uninterested and, as you're watching the film, you'll find more amusement trying to place who the voice actors are rather than anything that's actually on screen. The animation, although it's done well and the colours pop out of the screen, isn't all that impressive and the story just doesn't do anything beyond introduce a new set of Smurfs that can be readily turned into merchandise.

Ultimately, The Smurfs: The Lost Village might be brainless fodder for the little ones, but there's precious little else beyond that.