Cinepub


Review: The Smurfs (2011) by Jamie

I don’t really remember ever watching ‘The Smurfs’ as a kid but I know the basic gist of the whole thing. Bunch of little blue creatures live in a forest and an evil wizard tries to capture them. Pretty simple premise so why not take that idea and stretch it out in a live action/CGI mixed feature length film? Well how about because a) that’s a paper-thin premise that seems like it would require a lot of padding and b) The Smurfs are some of the most irritating fuckers to ever grace the silver screen. This is a point which is actually acknowledged several times throughout the film. If much of the supporting cast are pointing out just how unlikeable the little blue shits are, what makes the film makers believe that anyone watching it should care about them?

Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Back to point a. So how do you pad out such a simple concept? Well, you take the Smurfs and the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and teleport them to modern day Manhattan! It’s a fish out of water story where the characters find themselves confused by the everyday things we take for granted! That concept’s never been done before! (For films that have, to some extent, explored very similar concepts see: Blast From The Past, Coneheads, Crocodile Dundee, Elf, Enchanted, Encino Man, Hercules In New York, The Little Mermaid, Short Circuit, Thor… I think you get my point). I suppose I shouldn’t be to angry with the writers. I imagine they were just told to write a script for a Smurf movie and, honestly, what more could really be done with the concept?

So anyway, The Smurfs are transported to New York and end up staying with Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) Winslow and together the group learn important lessons about how important family is and how you’re more than just one defining characteristic, which may be true for humans but honestly seems to go against everything Smurf society is built on. In fact I imagine the sequel to this film involving Clumsy Smurf bringing this dangerous new philosophy back to the Smurf village and, in turn, starting a revolution against the dictatorial Papa Smurf who was the one who gave them all their predetermined roles in life in the first place. Yes, an encounter with human characters other than a one dimensional bad guy can only lead to the spilling of gallons of blue blood. Will the plucky rebels come out on top or will Papa Smurf be able to retain his iron grip on Smurf Society? Find out in ‘The Smurfs 2: Viva La Smurfolucion!’ coming in the summer of 2013.

Ahem. I seem to have gotten a little sidetracked. There are some amusing moments from the couples interaction with the blue demonspawn most of it stemming from Will’s absolute and completely understandable annoyance when it comes to the way that the Smurfs, well, just the way that the Smurfs are. He rails against them for randomly replacing words with the word Smurf. This makes sense because seriously CAN’T POSSIBLY MAKE ANY SENSE IF YOU USE THE WORD SMURF FOR EVERYTHING! VERBS, ADVERBS, NOUNS, PRONOUNS, PROFANITIES! IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE GRAMATICALLY OR LINGUISTICALLY! I mean, the last thing Patrick says to Grace is “Grace, I smurf you” which is either very sweet or a filthy and degrading insult. There ambiguity of the word Smurf means that there is no way to tell which.

He also points out just how fucking irritating the Smurfs theme tune is which they sing, whistle or hum a fuck load in this goddamn movie. If you’re lucky enough to have never heard the theme tune to the Smurfs, allow me to shatter that peaceful existence you one had and destroy the happiness that once dwelled in your heart:

Yeah, like I said, that theme just keeps coming back again and again and again. There is one time, near the end, where the song is used almost as a war chant a the creatures prepare for their showdown with Gargamel which was, admittedly, kinda inventive. So well done for that I guess.

Speaking of Gargamel, Hank Azaria is actually one of the movies small redeeming features, particularly near the beginning of the film. He also makes a few cracks about The Smurf way of life that everyone has discussed since they got old enough to realise just how fucking weird it was that the Smurfs lived in a village that only had one female. Unfortunately as the film goes on, Azaria gets more and more over the top and eventually becomes almost as irritating as the protagonists. As for the rest of the cast, well, there’s really only one person worth mentioning and that’s Sofia Vergara.

 

Sofia Vergara

I don’t remember anything about her performance,
but she is worth mentioning.

So all in all, just how bad is ‘The Smurfs’? Well, it’s pretty fucking bad, I don’t know how well it would play for kids but really who cares because kids are idiots. If they weren’t then they wouldn’t get smarter as they got older. In terms of these CGI/live action reboots of old cartoon series though, it is better than the Chipmunk movies and the Transformers movies because whilst this film is awful, it does have some redeeming moments here and there and I didn’t feel totally mentally, physically and spiritually drained after watching it unlike those other franchises. On the other hand, it did have one of the worst blasphemies committed against music. The Smurfs replacing various words in ‘Walk This Way’ with word Smurf…Fuckers.

And that’s one of the big problems with these kinds of films. They take these innocent little cartoons that made up many of our childhoods and try and modernise them in a way that just seems tacky, out of place, completely unnecessary and it just reeks of a coroporate type’s idea of getting down with the kids in the most simplistic, basic and crass way possible. “What do kids like? Rap. Can we make the Smurfs rap? Excellent. That should sell a few more tickets.” All it actually ends up doing is to make the whole thing end up seeming like an empty shell of what it once was, putting as little effort as possible into what was once a beloved franchise in order to make a quick buck. And that’s sad… On the other hand:

 

Sofia2

The Smurfs gets one pint out of five.



WTF: Executive Koala by Jamie

Yes, it’s time to take a look at some of the more bizarre films that have been released throughout the world and I’m gonna be honest from the get go, a lot of these films are gonna be from Japan. They just have a way with the pants crappingly insane and I love them for it. In that vein, the first film I’m going to be looking at is the 2005 film, ‘Executive Koala’ directed by Minoru Kawasaki.

Christ, I’m not even sure where to start with this though the beginning seems to be a pretty good place. The film opens with a happy little song which seems even odder once you get into what the film is actually about. The song is a accompanied with strange little ‘Hello Kitty’ style illustrations of a koala in a business suit performing various actions such as exercising and urinating up against a pole. Allow me to transcribe the lyrics, as they were in the translation I found, to this most awesome song.

‘He’s got such cute eyes,
He’s got gray fur
He’s a sweet thing
He’s a happy-go-lucky kind of guy
Restructuring, emotion
Nothing gets him down
Extramarital affairs, getting a divorce,
The world is beautiful
Go! Executive Koala!
Go! Executive Koala!
You don’t want to make him mad
Go! Executive Koala!
Go! Executive Koala!
A world filled with love
Is just ahead of us
Koala
Koala’

So yeah. I hope that gives you a small taste of the things to come. So the film opens and we learn that Executive Koala is appropriately enough an executive at a pickling company. A pickling company that is run by a six foot tall anthropomorphic bunny. It just makes sense. Life is pretty good for the Koala named Tamura. He’s got a sweet job which he’s very good at, makes a decent living and has a human girlfriend. Then, one day, his human girlfriend is murdered and he is quickly made the prime suspect.

There isn’t any direct evidence against him however and so he is allowed to go free… For now! Anyway, he begins a new project at work in which he tries to convince the head of a Korean kimchi supplier to enter into a business partnership. This leads into a montage wherein Tamura takes the head of the kimchi company around what I assume is Tokyo, sightseeing and such. Keep in mind that Tamura is a human sized, anthropomorphic koala wearing a business suit. Oh, and it also turns out that the head of the kimchi company has a pet flying squirrel that’s about the size of a small dog.

Seriously, what the fuck has happened to animals in this world? Why are there giant ones wearing clothes? Why are there others that are bigger than they should be? Is it all because of some bizarre genetic experimentation? Why does this film have a frog that runs a convenience store? It can’t be millions of years in the future when animals have evolved to this point naturally because it’s clearly the modern era.

Anyway, it turns out the Mr. Kimchi, who’s name I just can’t be bothered to find out, was a former lover of Tamura’s ex-wife who has been missing for some time. It turns out that they were in correspondence for some time whilst she was with Tamura and she sent him photos of herself after Tamura beat her, events that Tamura himself fails to remember.

Anyway, it turns out that Tamura used to be the head of the pickling company but, because of some horrific racial memory of what Western settlers did to his more arboreal and normal looking ancestors 100 years ago (Which means that either Koala‘s evolve incredibly rapidly or yeah, it‘s some sort of genetic experiment thing), he had a deep seated hatred for humans, a hatred he used to take out on his wife. His rabbit boss and his psychiatrist inform him that he killed his wife and they erased his memory of this incident and the rabbit took control of the company. Believing that he has killed his ex-wife and his girlfriend, Tamura decides to turn himself him but the psychiatrist and the rabbit try and stop him and inject him with a tranquilizer.

When Tamura regains consciousness, he finds the rabbit and the psychiatrist dead and is quickly arrested and sent to Alcatraz which seems to be in Japan now for some reason. Whilst there he suffers at the hands of the other inmates but is soon rescued and released from prison by Mr. Kimchi’s giant flying squirrel. This is where things really get fucked up.

It turns out that Mr. Kimchi and Tamura’s ex-wife have been going around killing people and making it seem as though Tamura was the culprit in order to exact their revenge. It also turns out that Tamura’s girlfriend was really his ex-wife wearing a mask. Oh, and his ex-wife learned the ancient Korean method of resurrection from Mr. Kimchi which is why she isn’t all dead and that. It just makes sense.

Anyway, his wife is about to shoot Tamura when the detective who arrested him jumps in the way of the bullet. He tells Tamura that he has found out he is innocent and a battle ensues between Tamura, his wife and Mr. Kimchi. They knock each other out and awaken at sunrise. Then they… all laugh… at the sunrise… and become friends with Tamura and his wife deciding to get remarried. They kiss while Mr. Kimchi applause, his applause apparently bringing the shot detective back to consciousness. Guess he knew the ancient Korean method of resurrection as well. Good for him. He applauds the koala and his wife as well, apparently forgetting about all of the murders she committed and the fact that she shot him. They all stand together and stare into the distance whilst a circular rift in time and space appears in the top-left corner to reveal the shop-keeping frog I mentioned earlier who is also now applauding. There the film ends.

Right. Well. I feel like I’ve been brain raped. I’m not sure exactly what happened here and I’m fairly sure my synopsis hasn’t really helped you figure out what happened here. The plot is actually fairly normal right up until that batshit crazy ending and it would actually be quite boring except for the fact that everything that’s happening is happening to a god damn six-foot tall koala fucking bear. The suit that the guy wears is actually quite impressive. It blinks, the mouth opens and it has two thumbs, just like a real koala. It doesn’t make the film any less insane but it is quite cool. The frog looked dodgy though.

So yeah… Umm, I’m not really sure what else to say about this except it was actually quite entertaining. I really have to check out some of this guys other films which include titles such as ‘Calamari Wrestler’ and ‘Crab Goalkeeper’. I think this dude has found his niche, job plus animal, and is sticking with it. Good for him. Overall I give Executive Koala three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.




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