SMURFS – THE LOST VILLAGE (2017): Review by Georgi Presecky

Directed by Kelly Asbury and co-written by Stacey Harmon and Pamela Ribon, Smurfs: The Lost Village boasts an all-female creative team that brings the long-awaited story of the mysterious Smurfette to the big screen. More than just the blond hair and high heels she’s epitomized for decades, this heroine’s story is funny and sweet. (GEP: 3.5/5)

Review by Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky

This continuation of the beloved franchise is a surprisingly powerful story about owning your roots and figuring out who you are, proving that good things really do come in smurf-sized packages.

Aside from being the only girl in the village, “Smurfette” (Demi Lovato) is also the only smurf with a name that lacks a qualifying adjective describing who she is. Everyone else has an identity built right into their epithets. There’s Jokey Smurf, Nosey Smurf and Grouchy Smurf - names that are all clear indications of what you’ll get with these little blue creatures.

Smurfette doesn’t quite know what to make of herself, which is the film's self-aware nod to society's "Smurfette principle" of having a token female character who doesn't do much more than look pretty and act as a foil to the boys. But this enjoyable 81-minute flick is her quest to figure it out. She makes it her mission to save the lost village of smurfs from the evil wizard “Gargamel” (laugh-out-loud funny Rainn Wilson), with a little help from her friends. Her sidekicks on her journey provide the comic relief and the ragtag qualities that define any good group of adventurers: “Hefty” (Joe Manganiello), “Brainy” (Danny Pudi) and easily the most hilarious part of this Sony animated feature, “Clumsy,” voiced by the always-funny Jack McBrayer. Smurfette is surprised to find that this hidden group of smurfs is, like the team who brought us this film, all girls like her. They live in a beautifully-animated village full of light and color, and it provides Smurfette with possibility and a sense of belonging.

It’s an admirable idea - instead of reinventing Smurfette to make her some cliched version of a tough, smart girl, Asbury and company try to show that pretty token blonde girl can already be tough and smart on her own. No reinvention necessary - just a little attention, a little credit and a little self-discovery.

At one point in the film as Smurfette, Hefty and Brainy loudly argue, Clumsy saunters up to the group and screams, “I want to yell about something!” A lot of Smurfs -The Lost Village feels this way -- like the filmmakers made a lot of these creative choices just because they could. The 3D animation is stunning and visually interesting, the voices behind the smurfs are hilarious and the jokes are great, but the movie hits a wall after they finally reach the lost village. It seems that just when things should be picking up, they’re dragged down - helped only by the humorous voice acting of the unbreakable Ellie Kemper as “Smurf Blossom.”

The feminist message is anything but subtle -- women have too long been placeholders in men’s stories, and the popular Smurfs franchise that dates back to the 1950s is no exception. Smurfette finally gets her own story, which makes “The Lost Village” special in its own right. If the story had been a bit more refined and the girl-power theme less heavy-handed, it would have sent a really great message to young girls about defining themselves. Even so, I’m thankful to live in a time when the Smurfettes get to tell their own stories (no matter who tries to stop them). Not in an aggressive or painfully obvious warrior-smurf kind of way, or even in a clumsy, jokey, nosey kind of way. Just in her own way.

© Georgiana E. Presecky (4/9/17) FF2 Media

Top Photo: Smurfette - and the audience - finally get a glimpse into her real identity, though the plot makes this theme a bit too obvious, as though the token female character needs special attention.

Middle Photo: Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty provide a majority of the laughs in Smurfette's story.

Bottom Photo: This decades-old character is finally getting her own story, but even though it took us way too long to get here, the film lacks a certain something that would make it truly shine.

Photo Credits: Sony Pictures Animation

Q: Does Smurfs - The Lost Village pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?

Yes!

Smurfette finally meets some fellow females after crossing the forbidden forest to warn them about Gargamel. They are unique, funny and strong women smurfs voiced by Julia Roberts, Ariel Winter, Michelle Rodriguez and the hysterical Ellie Kemper.

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