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Hefty (Joe Manganiello), Brainy (Danny Pudi), Clumsy (Jack McBrayer) and Smurfette (Demi Lovato) in Smurfs: The Lost Village

Sony Pictures Animation

3 out of 4 stars

Title
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Written by
Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon
Directed by
Kelly Asbury
Starring
Ellie Kemper, Demi Lovato and Rainn Wilson
Genre
Animation
Classification
G
Country
USA
Language
English
Year
2017

An unexpected delight, Smurfs: The Lost Village abandons the ceaseless mugging and pop-culture references of Sony's live-action adaptations of Belgian cartoonist Peyo's beloved blue creatures in favour of a relaxed animated romp.

It's a well-made kiddie flick centring on the discovery of an uncharted land of Smurfs, and Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato) existentially searching for identity amid the predominantly male Smurfs. The voice cast brings genuine warmth to their roles, especially Joe Manganiello's kind and sweet Hefty Smurf. There are plenty of ambitious set pieces boasting visual ingenuity, and the witty, perceptive script includes well-constructed subtext and lessons about breaking free from patriarchal norms and the benefits of learning about different cultures.

It's all in good fun, but it also wants to engage with children beyond hollow gags and pop songs, which are there, but kept to a tasteful minimum. I'll also admit to laughing as a grown adult with no kids of my own. Let's hope this direction for the franchise continues.

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