|George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf|
|Jack Angel as Papa Smurf|
|Melissa Sturm as Smurfette and the Smurf of Christmas Past|
|Fred Armisen as Brainy Smurf and the Smurf of Christmas Present|
|Gary Basaraba as Hefty Smurf and the Smurf of Christmas Future|
|Anton Yelchin as Clumsy Smurf|
|Hank Azaria as Gargamel|
I will start out this post by saying I have no nostalgic feelings towards The Smurfs. The TV show aired from 1981-1989 and I knew about it but my family didn’t have a TV for spurts when I was young and most of the time I had chores on Saturday morning when it aired.
That said, I think the designs are cute. I went into the recent movies with an open mind as I always try to do and boy was I underwhelmed. I would rather watch Dinosaur, my lowest Disney canon film, than either Smurf film again.
What makes them so especially putrid is not the terrible animation, the horrible live action merging, dumb plot, or the cringe-worthy puns. All that is awful but the constant product placement for Sony products is so distasteful. I am aware that product placement has always been a part of children’s programming but I don’t recall anything being as overt and constant as in The Smurfs movies. It is in almost every scene.
Anyway, the Smurf movies will always go down as 2 of the worst movies I’ve ever seen because of all the horribleness and the product placement so naturally I wasn’t very excited to watch Smurfs Christmas Carol but at least it was short unlike movies 1 and 2.
And my friends it’s not very good but it is not as bad as the movies. This is what I like to call a Shoney movie. When I was a girl we would drive by this chain restaurant called Shoney’s and my grandma would say ‘Shoney’s, it’s not that bad’. We would all laugh because why go to a restuarant that is ‘not that bad’ when you can go some place that is actually good. Same with this movie. Why watch it when we’ve got great holiday films for kids like Muppets, Mickey, Charlie Brown etc.
But let’s talk about the short. There was one fascinating aspect to it. Recently I had a vigorous debate about the values of hand drawn animation vs computerized. I said that the variety we seem to be getting in plots, characters since the advent of CG makes me feel positive toward the movement. There are absolutely gorgeous CG films.
Here’s what Smurfs Christmas Carol taught me. Good CG can hold it’s own along with good hand drawn but bad CG is infinitely worse than bad hand drawn.
Differences- To say this is a lose adaptation of Dickens novel is being generous. There is no Cratchit’s, no Jacob Marley. The only similarity is a grumpy man and 3 ghosts.
We start out with Grouchy Smurf being upset with Christmas and he doesn’t want to put the star on the communal tree. This upsets all of smurfdom and Christmas appears to be ruined (although why someone named Grouchy surprises the smurfs when he is grouchy is a bit of a head scratcher). We learn that Grouchy has always wanted a hanglider but every year he gets a hat (which let’s be honest a white hat every year would make me grouchy!).
When Grouchy storms out he goes to his mushroom and Papa Smurf gathers with Brainy, Smurfette and others and makes a potion that will teach Grouchy a lesson. When Grouchy falls under the spell all of the sudden it turns into 2D and it looks a million times better. I don’t think I have seen a switchover like that in a long time and it was shocking.
Smurfette is Past and we learn about Grouchy’s disappointment over the hats. The movie condemns him for this but why does he need a hat every year? But evidently this is an incredibly selfish desire on his part to want something different.
Brainy Smurf is Christmas Present and we learn that Papa Smurf actually individualizes the hats for each Smurf. So it is super selfish but it still doesn’t really seem selfish to me. It seems like a lazy gift giver to do the same thing every year.
Next is Heft Smurf as Christmas Future and this becomes oddly It’s a Wonderful Life where everything in Smurfdom is affected because Grouchy didn’t put the star on the tree. Gargamel has even captured everyone.
Gargamel is about to put Grouchy in his vat that will take way his smurf essence and as he enters the water he says ‘I’ll change’.
So everything is made right and we are back to ugly CG and it turns out Grouchy’s hat is a hang glider after all…Groan.
Strengths- Honestly seeing the difference in the hand drawn and CG was really interesting for me. 2 different studios did both parts and you could tell.
The animation is Shoney’s level at best but the Smurfs are cute so fans will probably enjoy seeing them.
The voicework is pretty good but other than that not much I can recommend. The story with the hats actually makes me feel sorry for Grouchy. Give him something else for goodness sakes. What kind of strange commune is this that every gift has to be the same every year?
Overall I recommend it only for Smurf fans. It’s Shoney level but there is so much better out there.