Who is Smurfette and what is her purpose? This is the question, or problem, to be answered in the latest Smurf film, and the first all-animated feature in what Sony Animation hopes will springboard a new level of interest in the little, blue folks. In Smurfs: Lost Village, Smurfette discovers that there are others like her – and that her initial creation by Gargamel doesn’t define who she is.
Smurfette (Demi Levato) is the only girl Smurf under the care of Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin), amongst the other boy Smurfs, like Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer), Grouchy (Jake Johnson), Jokey (Gabriel Iglesias), and (one of the funniest) Nosey (voiced by director Kelly Asbury). So when Smurfette accidentally lets Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) know that there’s another village of Smurfs, she sets off, with Hefty, Brainy, and Clumsy in tow, to find this ‘lost’ village. As you might have heard, Smurfette finds a village of FEMALE SMURFS!
Voiced by a stellar collection of talent, like Julia Roberts, Michelle Rodriguez, Meghan Trainor (hello, single!), and Elli Kemper (so funny!), the Lost Village allows Smurfette to see that she’s not alone – and the pursuit of Wilson’s evil wizard, as well as his hilarious, smarter cat and his goofy vulture, allow her to prove her worth. This one might scream ‘girl power’ at you – but it’s definitively more organic to the story than many of the messages that other movies are trying to push off on kids. Seriously, this film might be the most truly child-friendly films I’ve seen in awhile – I didn’t cringe at any of the material as my sons looked on, and everyone found it funny and entertaining.
The animation of Asbury and his crack team of cartoonists allows us to see a Peyo world in pretty powerful ways. From the dragon flies to the moving foilage to the Smurfs themselves, this feels like a throwback with modern twists. It’s visually attractive, matching the story that these folks are telling.
While the Smurfette question is the driving force, the ‘theology’ of the story latched on in my mind early. Smurfette is created for evil, but she chooses good; she’s challenged by the situation she finds herself in, but she rises to the challenge. Through it all, we hear more of Smurfette’s background, how she was created out of clay and dark magic, but transformed by an older magic that made her good. Whispers of Narnia and Tolkien, twitches of Scripture about how we’re created in the image of God yet tainted by original sin, all of those things echo in this story here – that takes place in a garden full of magic and power.
Lost Village will entertain you, but it’ll ask some big questions about our purpose, our choices, and our impact – all in the little world of some blue friends, seeking to live life in community and fend off evil – all in a day’s work.