Smurfs: The Lost Village
Rated PG for mild action and rude humor
Smurf Series Rebooted As Animated Tale Of Female Empowerment
Created by the Belgian cartoonist Peyo, the Smurfs started out as a comic strip back in 1958. Over the intervening years, the popular series chronicling the exploits of a clan of diminutive blue humanoids crossed over to television and film, most recently, a pair of live-action features released in 2011 and 2013.
Smurfs: The Lost Village is an animated tale of female empowerment co-written by Stacey Harman and Pamela Ribon. That’s the same Pamela Ribon whose previous screenplay was the similarly-themed Moana. Here, she has ostensibly imbued the headstrong heroine of this production with some of the same attributes as the intrepid Moana.
The Lost Village revolves around Smurfette (Demi Lovato), heretofore the only female Smurf. In fact, she’s not actually a Smurf, but a facsimile fabricated from a lump of clay by the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson).
As the film unfolds, we find her frolicking around the very peaceable Smurfdom with her best friends Brainy (Danny Pudi), Hefty (Joe Manganiello) and Clumsy (Jack McBrayer). Narrator/patriarch Papa Smurf (Mandy Patinkin) is quick to point out that all the other smurfs’ names tells you their dominant trait, a la Grouchy (Jake Johnson), Jokey (Gabriel Iglesias) and Nosey (Kelly Asbury), while Smurfette’s alone fails to reveal a hint about her.
The plot thickens when the adventurous Smurfette, with the help of an inverted leaf, hang glides over the wall separating the Smurf compound from the Forbidden Forest. Her worried BFFs follow suit, and the quartet soon finds a mysterious map with directions leading to the Lost Village, an all-girl enclave of Amazonian Smurfs led by the imperious Smurfwillow (Julia Roberts).
Next thing you know, the fearless foursome is in a race with Gargamel to discover the place. He’s hatched a diabolical plot to kidnap all the Smurfs. The plan is to become the most powerful wizard in the world by ingesting their essence after boiling them in his lab.
Not to worry. There’s a two-fisted shero prepared to prove, in convincing fashion, that a girl can grow up to be anything she wants to be. A priceless primer for impressionable tykes!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 90 minutes
Shout! Factory Films / Rush River Entertainment
Blind Man Abandons Family After Regaining Sight In Midlife Crisis Drama
James (Dan Stevens) was blinded during childhood by a pituitary tumor. To his credit, he never let the condition prevent him from marrying or making a living.
Despite their modest circumstances, he’s been grateful for the love of his plain but supportive wife, Sam (Malin Akerman), who bore him a beautiful son, Jonah (Skylar Gaertner). Career-wise, he’s been happy having a steady job in real estate where he works alongside his blind BFF, Bob (Oliver Platt).
But James’ perspective of all of the above changes dramatically after he miraculously regains his sight. It’s not long before he becomes more ambitious and demands a higher paying position. He also stops hanging around with Bob whom he accuses of now being jealous.
He treats Sam just as cruelly, asking whether she was with him more out of pity than love. Then he proceeds to abandon her for a pretty colleague (Kerry Bishe), and moves out of the house for nicer digs.
That is the intriguing point of departure of The Ticket, an introspective, midlife crisis drama directed and co-written by Ido Fluk (Never Too Late). Once you’re okay with the picture’s novel premise, don’t be surprised to find yourself sucked into its super-realistic, if harsh realities.
How would you behave in James’ situation? We all like to think of ourselves as far more virtuous than the creep he turns into. Yet, this thought-provoking character study suggests that you really might have to walk a mile in his moccasins to have a good idea.
There but for misfortune may go you or I.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 99 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening April 14, 2017
The Fate Of The Furious (PG-13 for profanity, suggestive content, and prolonged sequences of violence and destruction) Eighth installment in the Fast And Furious franchise finds Dom (Vin Diesel) and Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) settling down after their honeymoon only to have a mysterious woman (Charlize Theron) seduce him into a criminal betrayal of those closest to him. Ensemble includes Helen Mirren, Tyrese, Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Kurt Russell and Scott Eastwood (Clint’s son).
Spark: A Space Tail (PG for action and rude humor) Kiddie-oriented, animated adventure about a teenage monkey (Jace Norman) that embarks with his BFFs (Jessica Biel and Rob deLeeuw) on a dangerous mission to reconstruct a planet ripped to pieces by an evil overlord (A.C. Peterson). Voice cast includes Susan Sarandon, Hilary Swank and Patrick Stewart).
Chasing Trane (Unrated) Reverential biopic exploring the musical impact of jazz great John Coltrane (1926-1967). Includes archival footage as well as reflections by Common, Dr. Cornel West, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Wynton Marsalis and President Bill Clinton.
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent (R for profanity) Prestige biopic about the celebrity chef who contributed to the creation of New American cuisine. Featuring commentary by contemporaries Anthony Bourdain, Mario Batali and Martha Stewart.
Little Boxes (Unrated) Cross-cultural drama chronicling the challenges faced by an interracial couple (Melanie Lynskey and Nelsan Ellis) with a son in the sixth grade (Armani Jackson) when they relocate from Brooklyn to a lily-white suburb in the Pacific Northwest. With Janeane Garofalo, Miranda McKeon and Oona Laurence.
The Lost City Of Z (PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, nudity and brief profanity) Fact-based docudrama recounting the real-life exploits of Colonel Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), the British explorer who disappeared in the jungles of the Amazon in 1925 while searching for proof of an ancient civilization. Cast includes Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller and Tom Holland.
Norman (R for profanity) Richard Gere handles the title role in this suspense thriller as a wheeler-dealer whose stature in New York’s Jewish community rises after he helps an ambitious politician (Lior Ashkenazi) become prime minister of Israel. With Steve Buscemi, Michael Sheen, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Hank Azaria. (In English and Hebrew with subtitles)
The Outcasts (PG-13 for crude humor, suggestive content, profanity and partying) Revenge comedy revolving around a couple of high school pariahs (Victoria Justice and Eden Sher) who recruit other ostracized classmates to overthrow the popular clique ruining their lives. Cast includes Peyton List, Avan Jogia, Katie Chang and Ted McGinley.
A Quiet Passion (PG-13 for mature themes, disturbing images and suggestive material) Cynthia Nixon plays poet Emily Dickinson in this biopic chronicling the life and times of the posthumously-appreciated recluse. Wiith Jennifer Ehle, Duncan Duff and Keith Carradine.