This movie is loosely based on the cartoon characters created by Peyo in the 1950s, which were later developed into an American animated television series.
The story is about life in the Smurf village, which is located deep within an isolated forest. The village has one old man, Papa Smurf (voice of Jonathon Winters), and 100 younger Smurfs, who live together in a family-like relationship. All but one of the Smurfs (Smurfette, or ‘Girl Smurf’, voiced by Katy Perry) are men. The Smurfs include Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchin), Gutsy (voice of Alan Cumming), Brainy (voice of Fred Armisen), Grouchy (voice of George Lopez), Narrator (voice of Tom Kane), Baker (voiced by B.J. Novak), Crazy (voice of John Cassir) and Jokey (voice of Paul Reubens).
The Smurfs’ peaceful existence is disturbed by the evil plans of wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria), who’s always trying to catch the Smurfs and use them as ingredients in a spell that turns lead into gold. In a bid to escape from Gargamel, several Smurfs jump into a space vortex that appears in the sky. After a tumultuous journey, they find themselves in New York City. From this point on, the Smurfs just want to find a way to return to their village. But they have to avoid being captured by Gargamel and his cat, Azrael (voice of Frank Welker), who’ve followed them to New York. On their adventures, the Smurfs come to rely on advertising executive Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife, Grace (Jayma Mays).
Separation from loved ones; violence towards animals
This movie has lots of cartoon-style violence, which doesn’t have realistic consequences. For example:
- Many scenes show the Smurfs slapping, hitting and kicking each other.
- Patrick punches and slaps several Smurfs who are hiding in his jacket and also swats at the Smurfs with an umbrella.
- The Smurfs surround Gargamel and pelt him with eggs and apples implanted with pins.
- Several Smurfs hit Gargamel over the head with a frying pan.
- Gargamel sneaks up on Clumsy and tries to capture him in a net.
- Smurfette hits the cat Azrael in the head.
- Two criminals grab Gargamel and threaten to hurt him.
- Gutsy ties up Patrick and threatens him.
- A girl runs up and kicks Patrick in the shin.
There are also lots of scenes that show more realistic violence. For example:
- Gargamel chases Papa Smurf with a club and threatens him with a switch razor.
- Gargamel sucks several Smurfs up into a gardening leaf-vacuum machine.
- Gargamel chases the Smurfs with an electric wand.
- Gargamel fires arcs of electric current at Papa Smurf. It looks like Papa Smurf might die.
- Several other scenes show Gargamel chasing and lunging aggressively at the Smurfs.
- Gargamel throws his cat Azrael at Clumsy.
- Gargamel intentionally stomps on Azrael’s tail.
- Gargamel throws Azrael off a table.
- Grace hits Azrael with her handbag with enough force to fling the cat across the room.
- Several scenes show Azrael chasing, hissing and clawing at the Smurfs.
- A dog chases the Smurfs.
- The Smurfs and Patrick arm themselves with improvised weapons, such as pitchforks and tyre-irons, in preparation for a fight with Gargamel.
This movie has some sexual references. For example:
- Smurfette says about Patrick that ‘someone looks smurfilicious’.
- Smurfette sings an altered version of the Katy Perry song, ‘I kissed a girl (and I liked it)’. She sings, ‘I kissed a Smurf, and I liked it’.
- Gutsy talks about ‘grabbing life by the cockles’.
In addition, some scenes seem to refer to an incestuous relationship between the Smurfs. Although the movie indicates that Smurfette is not biologically related to the boy Smurfs, it also implies that they’ve grown up together in brother-sister style relationships. There are also several references to the Smurfs as a ‘family’. For example:
- In an early scene, Gargamel, who is shown holding puppet versions of Papa Smurf and Smurfette and talking to himself about the Smurfs, comments on the fact that there’s only one girl in the whole village. He wonders how normal this is.
- Another scene includes a spoof of the famous Marilyn Monroe air-vent scene from The Seven Year Itch. Smurfette’s dress is blown into the air by the floor-heating system. The boy Smurfs respond with appreciative ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’. Smurfette looks at them suggestively and says, ‘Oh, sorry boys – that’s not what I had in mind’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie shows some substance use. For example, there are scenes where characters drink alcoholic cocktails.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has one scene that suggests inappropriate nudity. This is when Gargamel moves behind a trolley in a restaurant and wees into an ice bucket. There are also some scenes that show kissing, including when Grace and Patrick kiss passionately at the end of the movie.
Some products are displayed or used in this movie. They include Swatch watches, M&M chocolates, Mercedes Benz cars, Google and the Guitar Hero computer game. There is also a considerable amount of Smurf merchandise associated with the movie.
There is some coarse and threatening language and several put-downs in this movie, which children might imitate. Also, many scenes involve a form of mock-swearing, where common phrases have been modified by replacing the swear words with the word ‘smurf’. For example, ‘Where the smurf are we?’
Ideas to discuss with your children
The Smurfs is a children’s comedy, which features animation and live acting. Its main message is about the value of teamwork, shared goals and family relationships. It could be enjoyed by all but very young children as well as some parents who were fans of the original Smurfs.
On the other hand, you might be worried about the way the cat character is presented as calculating and evil, the frequent violence, the mock-swearing and the occasional sexual references. At 103 minutes, the movie is also rather long for children.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include teamwork, cooperation, loyalty and courage.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as the bad things that can happen when you’re violent towards humans or animals. You could talk about better ways to sort out conflict.