After two failed attempts at live-action films, the Smurfs go fully animated in the latest "Smurfs: The Lost Village."
While it is an improvement over the previous two films, it still feels rather bloated and pointless.
"Lost Village" follows Smurfette (voiced by Demi Lovato) on a quest to find her place in the smurf village.
She finds a mysterious map that she believes may be the key to her past, and Smurfette sets out with fellow smurfs Brainy (voiced by Danny Pudi), Clumsy (voiced by Jack McBrayer) and Hefty (voiced by Joe Manganiello) to uncover the map's secrets. The journey leads them into the Forbidden Forest, where they discover a lost village filled with new smurfs and come face to face with the evil wizard Gargamel (voiced by Rainn Wilson).
This is basically an episode of the popular 1980s Saturday morning show stretched to 90 minutes. Little kids will probably enjoy moments throughout the film, which is full of bright colors and lots of hijinks and bells and whistles, but there really isn't much substance.
The best moments involve a running joke with Nosey Smurf, with Brayer also providing a few laughs as Clumsy.
For the most part, all "Lost Village" really does is drive home the fact that perhaps these characters are best taken in smaller doses. It's a one-joke premise that, when stretched to a feature-length film, wears out its welcome rather quickly.
Also in theaters
This week's other release is "Going in Style" (B-), which is way better than it has any business being thanks to its three Oscar-winning leads, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.
"Style" gives these three old pros a chance to showcase their talents quite well. Their talent might be a notch or two above the level of the script, but they work so hard you can't help but be marginally entertained.
Caine, Freeman and Arkin play longtime friends Joe, Willie and Albert, who are struggling to make ends meet. Things get worse when the company they worked for is bought out and their pensions are frozen.
Inspired by a bank robbery that Joe witnesses, they decide to take back what is rightfully owed to them from the bank holding the company's pension funds.
"Going in Style" is a remake of a 1979 film starring George Burns and Art Carney, a film I vaguely remember as a mainstay during the early days of cable television. It's rather interesting that some of the same social themes are just as relevant now as nearly 40 years ago, with both films showing men trying to age gracefully.
Caine, Freeman and Arkin click from the opening frame. You really can buy that these guys are lifelong friends because they seem so relaxed together.
Director Zach Braff, who was behind the camera for the underrated "Garden State," wisely uses that chemistry to his advantage. He lets these three men do what they do best, thus elevating the material.
"Style" also features Ann Margaret – continuing to show sex appeal at age 75 – as well as Matt Dillon and a fun cameo from Christopher Lloyd. But the film works because of its three leads.
They are great guides for a film in which the final destination might be predictable, but the journey is full of plenty of unexpected twists and turns.
"Going In Style" is rated PG-13 for drug content, language and some suggestive material and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.