Befuddling Movies: The Smurfs (2011)

Being the proper grown-ups we are, my flatmate and I decided to sit down and watch The Smurfs with our dinner tonight, and during our viewing we had a lot of questions regarding the plot and the logic of the film. So I decided instead of doing a typical review, I would instead give you insight into our train of thoughts. That's where the title comes from - we were very confused. It's not cause we were drunk which befuddle can also mean, but I'm sure it probably comes across that way regardless. 


Names of the smurfs

All the smurfs have names that reflect their personality, but what we wanted to know was whether they all fit their name because the person who named them knew how they would be when they grow up, if they would be the joker or nervous or grumpy or whatever, or if they were given names and then each smurf felt pushed into becoming like their name. Would Happy Smurf grow up thinking he always had to be happy, and squash any other feelings he had, or was he just a pleasant happy-go-lucky person? It was a nature versus nurture argument for a while, and then we wanted to know if you could run away from your name? Or were the destinies of the smurfs set?

Then Zara made the excellent point of who named Papa Smurf? If he is the leader of the clan of smurfs, was he born the leader? Did he become the leader over time? Was he elected? Regardless of those questions, was his name always papa or was it something else before he became the leader, and papa is merely a title of respect?

Also, can two smurfs have the same name? Cause surely there can't be only one person per feeling. More than two people can be sad at the same time, or can be clever, so do they share names? Do they just get round that by having similar names that mean the same thing, such as Clever Smurf and Brainy Smurf? But who decides which one is which? 


The ethnicity of the smurfs

If there are only 100 smurfs and they all live in their mushroom village somewhere in Belgium or wherever they are, how can some of them have different accents? One of the main cast members who go on the adventure to New York is Scottish, and while he serves some comic relief, how is he Scottish? There's no logical reason he picked up an accent, they never mention another clan of Smurfs in Scotland he could have hailed from, so how does his accent exist? How does he identify with the culture if he has never been there?

There's also a French one somewhere in the herd who isn't given a name, and one that seems to wear a straw hat and some overalls. So to make sense of that, there must be other smurfs out there, other groups these random ones left to come to this particular mushroom village. And then that poses the question for me how can there only be 100 smurfs? If a new one comes from Madrid or whatever, does one have to leave? Is it like an exchange program? Does that mean they have migrated all the way from their own countries to the commune in Belgium? Or, if they are all brought by storks, is it a mix-up on their end that they bring a smurf baby from the wrong breeding patch? Or are certain ones bred in different countries? 


Gargamel

Gargamel is the villain of the movie, sure. He is psychotic, I get that. But why? Why is he crazy? And why, of all things, does he hunt smurfs?

He is magic, and he mustn't be the only one with magical powers in the world. He is someone's child. So in this world, are all magical people after the smurfs? Or is he utilising his powers to go after these creatures of his own volution? If so, why? What have they ever done to him that he feels he must capture or kill them all? There is no context for his obsession and hatred of them past they're annoyingly optimistic. If it's not some magician legacy or whatever, how did he find out about them? Did they accidentally meet one time, like the smurfs do with Patrick and Grace, or did he notice them one day in the woods? And then, finally; how can he create one? 

Smurfette says Gargamel created her to capture the other smurfs, but that seems like such a stupid plan with far too many variables so of course it didn't work. If he can create smurfs, why does he need the ones in the village? Can he not just make more? And if he can use the essence of Smurfette to power his ring and his magic, why not just have used her from the beginning? He could have used her, powered up and gone and destroyed all the smurfs in one go? 


Other Observations

  • Why have the invisible force field? It does absolutely nothing. If the smurfs have magic, why not magic it so anyone who walks into it forget it's there, or walk around it or something? Why is it so out in the open anyway?

  • How do smurfs know what windows and glass are? There is clearly no sand in the forest. Also, how do they make comments about learning to drive when they don't know what a car is? How do they know you have to be taught to do that? And how does Gargamel not know what a toilet is, but can fashion machines to harvest smurf essence from a cotton candy machine? And how does Papa Smurf know what coffee is? Do they have it in smurf village? If so, how?

  • In the toy shop, Grumpy tells the green M&M toy that he's tired of dating. How, exactly, has he been dating if there's only one female smurf? Is he gay? Has he been dating trees or other inanimate objects, like he does with the M&M toy?

  • A swarm of flies led by an angry moth is one of the more inventive ways I've seen to get out of prison, so well done, Gargamel, for surprising me there. But he summoned the eagles to help him escape, which made my flatmate and I think perhaps he is related to Gandalf? And the realm the smurfs and Gargamel are from is really Middle Earth, and she pointed out the smurfs could be blue to indicate the presence of orcs? 

  • Poor Grace is barely a character in this movie, only serving as the sweet woman that Neil Patrick Harris' character, Patrick, plays off. She is only pregnant to give Patrick and Papa Smurf a bonding moment about parenting. Her name is barely said throughout the film. She also lives in a building called 'McKinley', which amused us because Jayma Mays' character in Glee (who was also pregnant and married to a man who was pretty much the same person as they look very similar and dress exactly alike) worked at a school called McKinley. Like the Smurfs, is Grace unable to escape her fate? Is she just born over and over again in different lives to lead the same existence? 



So yes, my flatmate and I are most likely insane, as this blog post shows. But to us, all of these questions and points are completely logical, if rather pedantic. Children's films aren't above scrutiny, I'm afraid. There may be more befuddling movie posts in the future, depending on if I find another movie that raises as many questions as this one. I'm sure there are many out there. So let's see, shall we? 




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