DVD Review: The Smurfs - The Smurfic Games and Other Favourite Sporting Episodes / Cert: U / Director: Various / Screenplay: Various / Starring: Michael Bell, Lucille Blis, William Callaway / Release Date: July 2nd
There's a movie Harold Ramis made in the mid-nineties called Multiplicity. In it, Michael Keaton clones himself so he can get all of his chores done in reasonable time. Despite them all being exact clones of himself, the Michael Keatons have different personalities and speech patterns. The Smurfs remind me a lot of Multiplicity. In the first episode of this collection, one of the Smurfs says that every Smurf is different. Except that they all look the same (not in a racist way, alright – they literally all look alike).
Like Michael Keaton, each Smurf is distinguished by its character traits. In this case (and like Snow White's Seven Dwarves) they're named for those character traits or functions too. There's Papa Smurf (boss of the Smurfs), Lazy, Grouchy and so on. Then there's Smurfette, who serves no other function than being 'the female one'. Given the lack of females against the overwhelming amount of male Smurfs, it's best not to question too much the sexual politics (or mechanics) of Smurftown.
Nor should one question too much why a grown man – a scholar and a wizard, no less - is so obsessed with destroying the species. Not that I don't sympathise: seeing his constant terrorisation at the hands of the little blue creatures, Gargamel emerges as the only sympathetic character in the series. There's a scene where he's going about his business in the forest when he is suddenly attacked by Smurfs, who have now invented cars. In another, Gargamel is beckoned to a dying relative's bedside only to be told what a horrible person he is and how his inheritance (a powerful magic medallion) is to be given to Papa Smurf. Little wonder Gargamel is full of resentment.
The Smurfic Games is a collection of seven sport and competition themed Smurfs episodes, no doubt to cash in on 2011's movie adaptation and, of course, our forthcoming Olympics. After narrowly escaping capture by Gargamel's cat, Azrael, Papa Smurf determines that his people are unfit and in need of exercise. Because the Smurfs are too stubborn to exercise for the sake of their own survival, they're tricked into doing so with the introduction of The Smurfic Games. Meanwhile, Gargamel manages to get his hands on The Medallion of Poseidon, which he uses to magically set things aflame and cause a series of devastating earthquakes. It's no spoiler to say that Gargamel is foiled and things eventually return to the status quo for the Smurfs, ready to cause some manner of mischief another day. Indeed – there are six other sporty episodes in which the little blue chaps partake in a little driving, mud wrestling, golfing, camping, mountain climbing and karate, amongst other colourful jollities. “You won't find tales of stadiums going over budget, steroid abuse or Smurfette weeing on the side of the road,” reads the promotional material. That's a shame, but the episodes are fun nevertheless. We wouldn't recommend watching all seven episodes in one go though – even if you've got a real sweet tooth, there's a lot of sugar packed into this 100 minutes.
Granted, we're probably not the intended audience, but The Smurfs is difficult to dislike. The animation is delightfully colourful, the stories don't outstay their welcome and there will be a high nostalgia factor for those who grew up watching the little blue Belgians. Whether it will appeal to the cynical kids of today remains to be seen, but The Smurfic Games is a lot of fun. It's... well, it's Smurfy.
Special Features: None