Cinema-going I: Smurfs II

I do tend to get out to the cinema just a bit too much…s’pose here is where I should plug the “Showcase Insider” card, which means I can get to see a film Sunday/Monday/Tuesday for a mere fiver. Unless its 3D. In which case I pay a small premium.

But I digress. I’m a Hollywood junkie, even when the Hollywood movie in question is actually made in Pinewood or similar place, and I’m back from my own personal filmfest to deliver my own highly opinionated take on a recent foursome.

Smurfs II

Yes. I was forced into this. The boy (now 8 and a half!) decided this looked a better bet than Percy Jackson II, and since both Kick-Ass (also II) and Guns II – sorry, Two Guns – were 15-rated, off we smurfed.

I have to say I hated it. Loathed it from a visceral depth that is unusual for me, given how much I usually tolerate bad films. It began with the opening “back story” on the origins of “Smurfette”…how she was once evil (or “a naughty” as the film cutely put it) and through the power of love and smurfness became good. So I get, given the film’s central proposition, why good is associated with turning smurfish blue. I don’t get why it also required her to transform from dark brunette to blonde.

Or rather I do. Because in the pap that we feed even our youngest of young kids, blonde is good and desirable, everything else bad.

So we start with #everydaysexism and then continue with a plot that was frankly creepy with undertones, I hope unintended, of incest and paedophilia. Basically, twas a compare and contrast, with differing models of fatherhood in its sights. Gargamel – the evil wizard and bane of all smurfdom – is/was smurfette’s real “father”, in the sense of having created her.

Papa smurf is merely her stepdad. Cue plot about how she feels betrayed and let down by her stepdad and briefly falls under the spell of her real one. Cue, too, stuff about how her real dad only provided the raw materials to make her , while her stepdad gave her unbounded love and trust and, and, and.. .

All this against a backdrop of manichean essentialism: the idea of good and bad as mutually exclusive opposites and the ultimately doomed attempt to turn Smurfette to the dark (or in this case, pink) side.

This smurfish plot is paralleled by a real world one, in which action hero, Patrick Winslow, vents at length and petulantly about his own stepdad, orders him to get lost, before said non-real father turns up and saves the day.

Yes. I can sort of see what they were on about, because dads who donate sperm and bugger all else are seriously questionable as fathers. But I can see the odd MRA fuming about this and I wouldn’t entirely blame them. It’s a complex point deconstructed crudely and simplistically.

Add to that some highly dubious dialogue about being “daddy’s girl” and “pleasing daddy” and yes, I found it very creepy indeed.

Is that, I wonder, because we are now so suspicious of fatherhood that it is difficult to hear words like “daddy” innocently any more? Or was it just clumsy script-writing. I think – I hope – the latter.

For me, this creepiness made Smurfs II deeply unpleasant. There were but two bits I liked: a birthday party satirising the neuroses of health and fitness conscious Americans, at which, before the kids could tuck in, the birthday food was checked for every known allergy and contaminant under the sun.

And of course, Gargamel’s cat with attitude, Azrael. I so want that cat. For not only is he beautiful: he answers back!



About janefae

On my way from here to there
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