The Integrity of the Smurfs Has Been Smurfed

Watching the trailer for the Smurfs movie. Okay, so I grew up with the cartoon series, and therefore I know that the show (like all Hanna-Barbera shows, as I mentioned below) has no artistic integrity to betray. I watched as they added new, politically-correct Smurfs like the environmentalist “Natural Smurf,” and then literally turned some of those Smurfs into little baby Smurfs in the hope of attracting a younger demographic. I saw them add Jonathan Winters as Grandpa Smurf, because… I don’t know, Papa Smurf wasn’t old enough? (It was probably the last time in TV history when shows were actually under pressure to add older characters to the cast in mid-run. It was kind of nice, in a way.) So I’m aware that doing a live-action/3D animation hybrid where the Smurfs wind up in the modern-day big city and harass Barney Stinson is something Hanna-Barbera would gladly have done themselves.

And yet a part of me can’t help wishing that there had been some other approach chosen – this particular “zap them from a magical land to the present day” has been done as far back as the Masters of the Universe movie, and I strongly suspect it’s less about making it more contemporary than making it cheaper to do. Hearing Jonathan Winters’ voice come out of Papa Smurf just feels wrong, for reasons stated above. Also, where’s the classical music? That was the big selling point of the original. Well, maybe not, but I was actually introduced to a lot of classical music by that show, and it will feel distinctly un-Smurfy without a lot of Schubert and Grieg.

Finally, I didn’t see Brainy Smurf get violently thrown out by the people who are supposedly his friends. That… well, okay, that’s probably an improvement.

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I just hope the inevitable Snorks movie treats the material with more respect.

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