Smurfs: The Lost Village is centered on Smurfette (voice of Demi Lovato), the only girl Smurf in Smurf Village. While all the other (male) Smurfs have their life purposes built into their names, Smurfette’s enigmatic moniker leaves her feeling left out and lost. Luckily, her friends Hefty Smurf (Joe Manganiello), a fellow who’s always working out; Clumsy Smurf (Jack McBrayer), a bungling butterfingers; and Brainy Smurf (Danny Pudi), an intelligent, science-oriented guy, are there to help her on her soul-searching journey.
Oh, and another thing: Smurfette was created by the nefarious wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) to spy on the Smurfs. Thankfully, Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) used his own magic to transform her from evil to good—which also included changing her hair from dark and curly to straight and blonde (an inexplicably negative message to young girls with dark, curly hair). So thanks to Papa Smurf, Smurfette is now just one of the guys (er…so to speak) living a happy but pointless life in Smurf Village.
Things take a turn for the less-than-idyllic when Gargamel captures Smurfette, who then unwittingly clues him in to the existence of a “lost” Smurf community. She and her friends must beat Gargamel to the Lost Village—which is populated entirely by female Smurfs—in order to warn them before the dastardly wizard arrives to harvest their magical abilities.
This film is clearly meant to celebrate girl power and equality, but it trips over its own thinly veiled sexist stereotypes as it tries to deliver that lesson. Smurfette endures far too many groan-worth compliments and advances from her “friend” Hefty, which is strange considering that none of the other male Smurfs seem hung up on her appearance or the fact that she’s a girl. She finds some validation amongst the warrior Smurf-women of the Lost Village, but her journey to self-discovery is muddled by the irritating and snooze-inducing plot line involving Gargamel.
The filmmakers have constructed a truly magical Smurf universe out of gorgeously detailed—and at times, even psychedelic—computer animation, which will occasionally enchant youngsters and make the proceeding somewhat bearable for the dutiful caregivers in the audience. But despite its fun creatures (yes, there are even glow-in-the-dark bunnies) and bright, colorful sequences, it’s hard to imagine this movie capturing anyone’s attention span for the full duration of 89 minutes. Although its messages are ultimately positive and Smurfette ends up saving the day, the film is far too low-energy and trite to deliver the powerful punch that it could have, and solidifies itself as just another generic entry in the history of kids’ cinema.