Scrooge 3: The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol

smurfs poster

Trailer:

Cast:

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.

sonyAnyway, 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.

smurf

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.

smurfs
Doesn’t this look so much better than the image above?

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.

smurf past
Smurfette Past and Grouchy

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.

smurfsbrainychristmaspresentNext 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.  smurf of future

Gargamel_Christmas_Carol

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.

14 thoughts on “Scrooge 3: The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol

  1. Yeah…I remember the Smurfs…it was this stupid show with the boring plot which one did watch just because it was squeezed in between better shows, and at least the Smurfs had funny names, and a really good title song. But even as a child I found the plots of the show very thin and mostly stupid…aside from the CGI, the main reason this movie doesn’t work is more or less the same reason why most of those cartoon based movies don’t work: They are supposed to take a concept which was barely enough to fill one episode in order to be repeated again and again for the whole run of the show and make a movie out of it. It is really beyond me that there are actually people watching and liking those Smurf movies.

    Either way, there are a ton of TV shows which have used the plot of A Christmas Carol to fill an episode or a special. It is rarely done with any care or creativity (the one good take I can remember was the Ghostbuster one, mostly because they didn’t retell the story, but went for “what if the Ghostbusters had captured the Ghosts”).

    You know, I wish I could say the screwed up message of the Smurf version is somehow unusual, but I remember that one reason I didn’t really like the show is because I tended to disagree with the lessons it tried to teach (well, actually, I agreed with the lessons, but not with the stories used to teach them). It’s the same here. On the one hand, I don’t think that presents are the important part of Christmas. Personally I enjoy finding the perfect present for someone else more than receiving them (not that I wouldn’t be sad if I wouldn’t get one). And if someone put effort in a present, there is no need to be grumpy about it. On the other hand, though, the kind of present someone gives you says a lot about how well he knows you. If someone insists me giving books despite me telling everyone that while I like reading, I dislike getting books as present, especially since I have my kindle, I feel that this person is not really listening to me. And really, can’t Papa Smurf not simply tell Grumpy that there is a glider in his cap? Isn’t it mean of the other Smurf to make fun of something Grumpy really wants to have? If it is that important to him, why troll him every year.

    In any case, this one is definitely an adaption I recommend to skip.

    (And yes, this is exactly what I had in mind when I said that traditional animation is more forgiving).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You really have seen every version! Thanks for that insight!
      I agree with everything you said. I think I also never bonded to the show because there is only one girl in it. If I was going to watch an 80s show with characters having defined characteristics as their names I would rather watch The Care Bears. But yeah I didn’t watch that many Saturday morning shows. I got more into the Disney Afternoon cartoons like DuckTales, Gargoyles, Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck. We usually had Saturday work on Saturday morning (much to my little chagrin!). The Ghostbusters version sounds fascinating.

      I agree on the lesson front too (I haven’t seen the show so I don’t know about it in general but I will take your word for it). I actually felt sorry for Grouchy. Getting the same present every year is lame but also to get the same gift as everyone else is especially lame. They never explained why that had to be? I mean why not get him some pants or a coat one year? I agree it felt like lazy gift giving and that they weren’t very thoughtful friends, which is important at Christmas. I would have been grouchy too!

      A definite skip. Thanks for reading. I wonder if I will catch any you haven’t seen?

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      1. I’m sure there are some…there is a buttload of them, it is impossible to see all of them, and there are some I have only glanced in and then skipped for one reason or another (for example I really couldn’t get into Captain Picard as Scrooge, which is strange, normally I don’t have the problem with Patrick Steward in different roles, but that is one he didn’t really to manage his own…he does better when he is supposed to play “the gentleman”.9

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      2. I’m really trying to get my hands on some more obscure one’s so maybe I will surprise you but either way it’s fun for me to dig a little deeper beyond the 4 or 5 I normally watch. I usually watch Alistair, Muppets, Mickey, Scott. Others are sprinkled in when I feel inclined.

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    1. Don’t bother but it did give me a chance to blast the Smurf movies which I’ve been wanting to do. They really suck. Have you seen them?

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      1. Yeah, and of course they’re bad, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy watching them. I dunno, they were like an enjoyable form of “bad”.

        Like out of all the movies with CGI heroes and live-action people (the Scooby-Doo films, the Alvin and the Chipmunks, Hop, etc.), these are the ones I actually “liked” or disliked the least.

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      2. Once again you are the king of generosity. I just thought the constant Sony product placement for a kids movie was so distasteful. It made them worse than the Chipmunks. Scooby Doo’s are really bad though. They are all awful. Yuck.

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      3. But yeah the Smurfs and Transformers movies, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon all make my ‘movies I hate list’. They make me angry. ,

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