I have not seen The Smurfs and I have no intention on paying my money to see it either so this is not a review of it. But watching the clips and reading the reviews of this film got me to thinking: Why does it exist? Why do really bad films of this type exist? The Scooby Doo movies, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, etc. Why do they get made? And more importantly, how do they make so much money despite being critically reviled? The answer: Marketing.
Now, I believe no one actually sets out to make a bad film. I know the hard work and effort it takes to put together a single film. However, films made in mainstream Hollywood studios are an entirely different case. Studios like these are not run by creative types. It's reported many of them aren't even fond of films. They're businesspeople first and foremost, concerned primarily to make the maximum amount of profit. Therein lies one of the problems.
The entertainment business is a highly risky venture because unlike, say, a mechanical product or a food product, your product relies a lot on highly subjective factors rather than objective factors. You can measure the size, weight, length, width, etc. of let's say, a screw and you can create a satisfactory product for your customers. But film, music, video games, etc. all rely on lots of subjectivity which can't be easily be measured or weighed or quantified. This is why a lot of huge tentpole Hollywood blockbusters are adaptations of previous material like books, comics, previous franchises, etc. because they have built-in audiences for them already so money is all but guaranteed. So the Harry Potter's and Dark Knight's have little to no problem.
What about something midway like The Smurfs? That's where the marketing department comes in. The studio behind this wants to launch a kiddie franchise akin to the similarly positioned Alvin and the Chipmunks: Take something old that some older people will be nostalghic about and reintroduce them to a new generation. But instead of trying to do something creative and inventive with the material (which really could be done), they instead went to the easily marketable route of cheap laughs and forced hipness (Papa Smurf in shades? Please). It's the same for a lot of these types of films. These are films whose scripts is dictated by Q-ratings, focus groups and strictly lowest common denominator filmmaking, designed to create products and consumers out of the kids who will bug their parents to buy the tickets and the toys. This film and films like it are purely a product of marketing, made for the pure purpose of making money.
So the next time you see a movie like this, just think, that's a film by the marketing department.