I consider myself to have a love/hate relationship with the Smurfs.
When I was a kid, I do remember watching the cartoon on television. It was kind of hard to avoid, given that it was a Saturday Morning mainstay for close to a decade. But, leave it to NBC to keep cartoons and kids shows on long past their expiration date. After all, "Alvin and the Chipmunks" stayed on the air for seven years, and "Saved By The Bell" managed a total of twelve if you factor in the Miss Bliss year and the New Class years.
But while I did like the cartoon, I hated the fact that the Smurf toys were always so hard to find - and were way overpriced for what they were. At least, it seemed like that to me anyway. I always liked Papa Smurf and always wanted a Papa Smurf doll, as he was the only Smurf that had a beard, and he was the only Smurf that wore red. And being a non-conformist at heart, I absolutely wanted Papa Smurf. Unfortunately, everyone else wanted him too. It was one of the several toys that I never owned in my youth, right alongside the Easy-Bake Oven, the board game "Pay Day", and the Speak and Spell.
(Though, the last one would have been hardly used as I already knew how to spell very well...I just thought it looked cool.)
Now, the Smurfs television show debuted in 1981 - and obviously I don't remember the earliest episodes as I was a few months old when they made their network television debut. But thirty years later, in 2011, the Smurfs made the leap onto the big screen in their first three dimensional appearance.
And, much like the television show, it too received mixed reviews.
Die hard Smurfs fans would have probably loved the film, and it must have been a success as it spawned a sequel as well as a couple of holiday themed television specials. Sure enough, it was the ninth highest grossing film of 2011. But some people would also tell you that the film was stupid, made no sense, and completely destroyed any credibility that the Smurfs might have had.
I don't know if I would go quite THAT far, but I do think that there were some parts of the film that could have been better.
Interestingly enough, one of those things doesn't include changing the cast around. For what it was worth, the Smurfs themselves had a fantastic group of actors who near mimicked the original cartoon voices. Jonathan Winters was perfect as Papa Smurf - and I have to wonder who they would get to play Papa Smurf if any more sequels were made, as Winters passed away in 2013. Katy Perry was quite perfect as Smurfette. Fred Armisen made a wonderful Brainy Smurf. Really, I have no issues with the voice cast at all.
The human cast itself wasn't too bad either. I mean feasibly speaking, adding Jayma Mays and Neil Patrick Harris in a film was a good idea on paper, and to be fair to both of them, they really did their best.
And, I also have to give props to Hank Azaria for his role of Gargamel. I don't know who the make-up artists were that worked on him, but they did a fantastic job transforming Gargamel from cartoon to human. And, here's an interesting piece of trivia for you. Did you know that Azaria shaved his head during the filming of this movie so that he could make the make-up applications go quicker? And that he changed into his Gargamel costume at least fifty times during the whole shoot? I have to say, that is a LOT of time in a make-up chair!
I also must say that even the film premiere was quite creative. For one, the film premiered on June 16, 2011 in a small Spanish village named Juzcar, and in preparation for the event, all of the buildings in the village - including the town's church - were painted bright blue.
Don't believe me? Have a look! It's quite a change, isn't it? And as of May 2016, the buildings still remain blue! Apparently the citizens of the town voted to keep the colour after it was noted that many tourists would come by to see the blue buildings. In 2012 alone, the rate of tourists increased from 300 in early 2011 to almost 80,000 the following year!
The only thing that I wish could have been better about the film was the actual plot itself.
Suffice to say, I think the movie would have worked better had they kept the classic cartoon style and not had this side plot of the Smurfs getting sucked into a vortex that brought them to New York City in 2011. I won't go into too much detail there, but the whole plot was just too unbelievable. Although I suppose had I been six when this movie came out and not thirty, I'd probably have liked it a lot more.