It’s time for a good old-fashioned rant. As my good friend Bernt pointed out this week, a feature film version of The Smurfs is moving forward. I had heard awhile back that this was happening, but things have apparently changed on this project.
Development on the film started way back in 2003 when the 80’s nostalgia films were just getting started. Paramount had aquired the rights and planned for a trilogy of CGI animated films (a la Shrek) to be released through their Nickelodeon Films arm. The release date was set for 2008 (the 50th anniversary of The Smurfs). They even released a photo of the CGI work in progress!
Guarded optimism was my reaction. However, it’s now 2008 and we have no film!
This past week we got a taste of what happened. It was annouced that Columbia/Sony Animation Studios had aquired the rights to The Smurfs film. Read between the lines to find that things at Paramount must not have panned out. Could the animation process have gone south? We’ll never know for sure.
What we do know is that Columbia is in the driver’s seat now and are negotiating with the screenwriters of Shrek 2 and 3 to do the script.
Now the kiss of death: Columbia has announced that the film will be a CGI/Live-Action hybrid. You know, like Garfield and Alvin and the Chipmunks. The studio seems to think that this is the best way to go on this film. I think this is the worst possible plan of action. All CGI/Live-Action films have been disatrous so far and The Smurfs are particularly vulnerable.
I can already see the script before they even write it: The Smurfs are somehow forced from their village (perhaps by Gargamel himself) and end up in a human city. They are forced to find some kind of MacGuffin while interacting with humans. The various Smurfs find their elements (e.g. Brainy Smurf visits a college and ends up giving some kind of lecture, Vanity Smurf [who is strongly implied to be gay] finds a salon, etc.) along the way. Some token human befriends the Smurfs (this is the Jason Lee character) and helps them. Lots of human men inexplicably fall for Smurfette. Blah blah blah. In the end the Smurfs are able to return to the villiage, but many have to make some big decision to do so because they like the city. Blah blah blah The End!
Mark my words, this will be the basic story and it will be a terrible film.
But I’ll probably still see it, being the Smurf fan that I am. And I’ll probably complain about it again then. I just want a straight-forward cartoon update that’s basically just a longer episode of the series. No re-interpretation (Alvin and the Chipmunks) and no self-aware-parody (Scooby Doo). Is that so hard Hollywood??!
I can’t wait until some producer gets his hands on the rights to a feature film update of Saved by the Bell. I’m sure it’s not far away.