Let's cut to the chase; Smurf movies aren't going to change the world.

The writing isn't sophisticated, the animations aren't the most original, and the plot is always the same; Gargamel versus the Smurfs.

And yet, after the mix of live action and animation in the 2011 and 2013 films, the formula has changed. Rather than placing animated Smurfs in a live action setting such as New York or Paris, they've returned to their roots - a fully animated film set mostly within the Smurfs own domain.

Smurfette is the centre of a story with an unexpected female empowerment theme. The only female Smurf, Smurfette (Demi Lovato) was created by Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) and his dark magic to infiltrate the Smurf kingdom, only to be turned into a much loved member of this clan of blue "gnomes" by Papa Smurf.

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She's also the only Smurf who doesn't know who she is. Unlike all the other Smurfs, who have a name that tells you something about them, Smurfette is just, well, a female Smurf.

While tree surfing, Smurfette encounters a Smurf she hasn't met before. She isn't the only one to discover Smurfs are living in the Forbidden Forest; so has Gargamel. To warn this new family of Smurfs, Clumsy, Brainy, Hearty and Smurfette disobey Papa Smurf and sneak into the Forbidden Forest - and what they find is a surprise for us all.

As you expect, Smurfs Lost Village is colourful and zippy, but without the glitter bombs and dance parties of Trolls.

Director Raja Gosnell borrows from various genres to pull this adventure together; it starts like a documentary as each Smurf is interviewed about Smurfette, there's action with smurfs flying across the screen in slow motion, and a gorgeous moment when Clumsy bangs into the camera.

Largely, however, Gosnell sticks to what works - silly slapstick gags, most of which involve Gargamel. The result is a harmless, fun and largely forgettable film that will keep the littlies happy these holidays.

That said, the 10-year-olds at the screening I attended cackled their way through it - not that they'd admit it now.

Cast:

Demi Lovato, Julia Roberts

Director:

Raja Gosnell

Running Time:

90 mins

Rating:

G

Verdict:

More slapstick, silly and forgettable fun.