It has been a bit since I’ve written anything for the site but after watching promos and previews for the new Smurf film (Smurfs 2), I just had to say something. Despite the pledge I made to myself to be a better and more tolerant person, I just can’t help myself, I need to go on record as saying this film stinks. There I’ve said it and I feel immeasurably better. Possibly more on this later….
Okay, what next? Old gripe but worth repeating - If I see one more actress depicting a medical examiner, coroner or crime scene investigator wearing a tight skirt and high heels that cost more than your average kitchen remodel…. Well…. I’ll just scream. Of course being a big manly guy I don’t scream but I’ll experience an emotional melt down of one sort or other. So please, please, let’s stop depicting these people as if they were all wealthy, attractive young women that just can’t say no to the allure of working as a public servant. American audiences, and I guess international audiences as well gobble this stuff up, but isn’t there room for something else besides the cotton candy?
Next: Why do Brits do mysteries and spy films so much better than us? Compare a Masterpiece Mystery (any one of the numerous titles they’ve done over the years) to something of ours. Admittedly we do better cop shows but we’re all guns and forensics and DNA and did I mention the comely young women in Jimmy Choo shoes and tight four-hundred dollar jeans…. The BBC has their detectives in cable knit sweaters and training shoes or suits from J.C Penny’s rather than Harrods and they don’t carry pistols, and they actually have ruddy complexions and even have a pimple here and there! And believe it or not some of them don’t look as if they work out regularly – what’s up with that? How in the world can they catch the bad guys?
Next: If I hear one more 20-year-old actress tell an interviewer how the role of a teenage vampire stretched her… well maybe I really will scream.
Next: Finally saw “Brave”…. But to follow my golden rule: If I have nothing bad to say about a film – Say Nothing! Going to break that rule as well all the others I make for myself – Loved this film, the story was solid if not great, the animation was great, the designs were lyrical and all in all, this is what an animated CGI theatrical film should aspire to be – a thumbs up nearly across the board and if you question why it took me so long to watch it – Just remember, better late than never.
Next: Is there any possible reason to take iconic 2-D animated properties and try to reimagine them in a CGI/Live action world? Well, any reason except for money of course, as money is always the prime mover. I mean how pug ugly are these CGI Smurfs? They were ugly but cute in 2-D hand drawn form, but now they’re just ugly. Of course that’s just my opinion but so far I’ve never been wrong….
Maybe more on this later.
Next: How much does it cost to produce a middle of the road CGI theatrical film in today's market? Well, way too much for anyone other than one of the big boys: Sony/Columbia, Disney, Universal/NBC, Viacom-Paramount, Fox or Warner Bros… or perhaps a Mini-Major: Lionsgate, MGM et.al. Think 40 million without P&A and you’d be in the ballpark. Who cares? No one I suppose as long as work is created and domestic workers benefit…… Years ago only Disney was producing animated theatricals, albeit 2-D hand drawn verities, so in a way I guess you could argue that things have improved. But….. back then, if you could raise the production funding and deliver a decent film you has a shot to find distribution. Not so much today.
Next: Also just watched “Hotel Transylvania” and thought it shallow but technically well made. Of course being a film for kids, shallow is not necessarily a bad thing. After all kids aren’t eagerly awaiting for “On the Waterfront” to be released as a DVD. There is a place for Chutes and Ladders and Mister Potato Head and so Hotel Transylvania has it's place as well. Technology seems to blind filmmakers at times – This should have been a better film (Hotel Transylvania, not On the Waterfront) but a weak script got in the way. It seems that many of these films try to serve too many masters and end up failing everyone across the board.
Next: Staying on the same grumpy theme regarding CGI/Live Action mixes – Please let me know if you can name one that worked. The closest I can come is “Roger Rabbit” but I’m prejudiced due to a close friend’s company producing two of the segments and my having a bit of a thing for Jessica Rabbit…..
Next: A lot of good work was done on Smurf 2 but why not on a film that merited quality and craftsmanship? For my part I've worked on a lot of stinkers in my life but I knew they were stinkers - there's nothing wrong with taking pride in building a beautiful staircase even if it's in a silly, pretentious building - as long as you don't start to belive that it's all about the staircase, not the crappy building it's inside.
Next and Last: An old and very good friend of mine produced the Smurfs originally and fought ferociously with the studio and the network when he felt the spirit and direction of the show was being compromised. I believe much of the show’s initial success, and what a huge success it was, was due directly to Gerard Baldwin. He refused to allow the framing of the show to be compromised, and with Payo’s support went to the barricades many times to maintain the flow and direction of the show from being transformed from something new and fresh into something mundane and ordinary. I wonder what he thought of Smurf’s 2?