Once in awhile, a movie sets me searching for its origins.

That's what "The Smurfs" did. I guessed this movie wasn't quite what their creator had in mind - and I was right.

These little blue (three apples tall) people with stubby tails and a penchant for gardening go back a lot further than the 1980s-era American animated TV series.

WE PAUSE NOW FOR A BRIEF POP CULTURE HISTORY LESSON: The Smurfs actually began in the 1950s in a French children's magazine, "Le Journal de Spirou." Created by Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, aka "Peyo," the little creatures originally were called "Schtroumpf" ("whatever").

I don't think Peyo ever meant for a story to include a disgusting hairball, nor would he approve of Smurfs being involved in literal "toilet humor." Unfortunately, their gentle adventures have been vulgarized here, although the script does contain some cute moments.

The show begins with the Smurfs in their village. Some of them are transported by a vortex to modern-day New York City. Among them are Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters), the gentle, wise leader, and Smurfette (singer Katy Perry), who was created by Gargamel, an evil wizard (played here by an almost-unrecognizable Hank Azaria), to distract the male Smurfs.

The Smurfs end up in the apartment of Patrick and Grace (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays), who try to keep them safe while the Smurfs search for a way home. In the meantime, Gargamel, along with Azrael, his cat, has arrived to track them down for their "Smurf essence," which will give Gargamel more power.

I didn't appreciate the potty humor, the Aerosmith song that's pretty much used as filler, the way the cat is unmercifully kicked around or the vulgarization of the word "Smurf," which is used as both a noun and a verb.

I did appreciate the look of the Smurfs and the sweet lessons they teach each other and those they encounter.

Adults won't be annoyed and it will entertain the kids. If you see it in 3-D, you will be surprised at how effective the special effects are.

The best part of the movie is the Smurfs' search for a special book, which turns out to be one of the original Peyo comics. How Smurfy is that?


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