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.


ricaugjnr said...

I just hope, for your sake Adam, that your children are too old for the (inevitable now, I fear) sequel. Or Smurfquel.

PeteY said...

Sometimes I wonder if you just write all the time, but then I realise you must read and watch films too. Or do you write simultaneously?

Eric said...

I had to look up Tom Hollander on IMDB just to make sure I had the right face in mind when you brought up his name. Turns out I did. Then I saw this in his mini-biography:

'Hollander credits the happy atmosphere of the Dragon School with his childhood introduction to acting. There, encouraged by an influential teacher named Andrew Roberts, he won the title role in "Oliver".'

Congratulations on having such a seminal impact on your student's life, Adam. I'm sure he'll be devastated by your disapproval of his non-role in this non-film.

Unless, of course, there is another British teacher out there with the extremely rare and unlikely name of Adam Roberts. A preposterous thought, I know.

Adam Roberts Project said...

ricaugjnr: the sequel is already in preproduction. Scheduled for a 2013 release. Eheu.

PeteY: you know Glengarry Glen Ross where their mantra is 'ABC': Always Be Closing? Mine is ABW: Always Be Writing.

Eric: people often call me 'Andrew'. I'm not sure why. Maybe 'Andrew' goes better with 'Roberts' than 'Adam' does.

The Tom Hollander connection is that I'd read a review of the Smurfs film in amongst a bunch of other films; and one of the other film reviews had a line in it that went something like 'even the presence of the excellent Tom Hollander playing X cannot redeem this movie'. I'd mentally transferred that line to the Smurf I think.

PeteY said...

Could it be that Andrew keeps writing too, and owing to a bureaucratic error it gets attributed to Adam?

I look forward to your new book in the next fortnight or so, Land of the Two-Headed. Starring Tom Hollander as one of the heads, and Hank Azaria as the other.

PeteY said...

Maybe the wrong place to mention it, but further to the discussion of Ian Watson, a whole load of his books have appeared as preorders on Apple's iBookstore. Release date 29th September. This looks like the big Gollancz back catalogue ebook release. I've also noticed ones by Greg Bear and Norman Spinrad, but by no means the whole back catalogue of either. Disappointingly, there are no John Brunners at all.