Sunday, 28 August 2011
Raja Gosnell, The Smurfs (2011)
I took the kids to see this, at their insistence. And I did see it. Unless (I was tired) I fell asleep as soon as I settled into the darkened cinema seat. If so then I had a vivid, rather horrible dream in which Doogie Howser M.D. and that breadstick-skinny, manga-faced lass from Glee are visited in New York by a horde of Na'vi-Liliputians who pass through a portal in order to steal the commercial success of Enchanted. Everybody mugs and overacts, the Smurphs most especially; and the wicked wizard Gargamel, in smurf-pursuit, more than mugs and overacts. He Mmmmugs and hyperacts. For some reason (I don't know why) I had it in my head that Gargamel, perfectly unrecognisable beneath an inch-thick facial prosthetic, was being played by the excellent Tom Hollander. He wasn't. He was played by the equally excellent Hank Azaria. Both men should be ashamed. It looks harsh, I know, tarring Hollander with the brush of a film with which he has nothing whatsoever to do except in my confused head. But that's the way it goes. Smurphy's Law. This movie is so bad it contaminates the careers of actors who have literally no connection with it whatsoever.
Anyway, I came away with a theory. Some of the we-might-as-well-call-it comedy here is of the pratfalling, mistaking-a-portaloo-for-an-alchemical-laboratory, pissing-in-a-wine-cooler sort. But one running gag ... one corpulent 52-year-old man having a heart attack mid-jog gag, at any rate ... is the replacement of random words with neologisms formed by adding prefixes and suffixes to the word 'smurf'. 'Smurftastic!', 'What the Smurf?' and 'Smurfxactly!' and so on. Now, some of these usages clearly stand in for the word 'fuck'. You may have seen the trailer, in which Smurfella, of Smurfette, or Smarymagdelene or whatever the female Smurf is called (voiced by Katie Perry) announces 'you picked the wrong girl to Smurf with': one of those situations where a like-sounding euphemism, such as 'freak' or 'feck', stands-in for the word we all know is actually being invoked. Once I twigged this, I understood. This movie is actually called 'The Fucks'; and all the dialogue has been lifted from Scarface ('Where the Smurf are we?') I trust there will be a version on the Director's Cut DVD in which every 'smurf' is replaced with the word 'fuck'. I'd prefer that.