The new movie adaptation of the best-selling comic book continues with more of the same, combining computer animation and real-life actors.
Raja Gosnell returns to direct the comic-book-turned-movie about fictional blue creatures no taller than an apple living in what seems an idyllic community.
“The Smurfs” started as a Belgian comics in 1958, written originally in French, by Belgian artist Pierre Culliford (best known for his pen name Peyo). The word “Smurf” is a Dutch translation of the French “Schtroumpf,” an apocryphal word Peyo uttered when one time he could not remember the term for salt.
The first installment of the film, which premiered on July 29, 2011, went on to take over $560 million.
The producer of the film, Jordan Kerner, said that this fantasy story was the one people grew up watching and reading, which explains why it invokes such emotional and nostalgic resonance among them.
“Whether you live in Brazil, or in China, or in Russia, or Paris, or Belgium, or New York… whether they’re los Pitufos, or i Puffi, or les Schtroumpfs… everybody loves the Smurfs,” Kerner said. “With ‘The Smurfs,’ and now ‘The Smurfs 2,’ we’re seeking to make films that translate across all geographical boundaries—which fits, because the themes of ‘The Smurfs’ cross all cultures.”
“These are characters that live in people’s childhoods,” said Kerner. “They are remembered and revered in the hearts of the generations that saw or read them. So we believed it was our duty to take the characters that the audience knew and loved, and expand them into a present time, from an emotional and a comedic standpoint.”
In the sequel, the pesky little characters take Paris by storm as they set forth in a new adventure.
The Smurfs, with the help of their human friends, set out to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by the evil sorcerer Gargamel, who wants to extract from her a secret spell that can turn his creatures, called the Naugties, into Smurfs.
“The most exciting thing for me, as a director, is setting this huge adventure all through Paris,” said Gosnel. “We even got to film places where, to my knowledge, no one has ever filmed before. We were on stage in the Paris Opera House; we shot in the flying buttresses of Notre Dame.”
Gosnell said his favorite moments in the film were the ones showing Paris to full effect.
“We have a stork flight all through Paris,” he noted. “Smurfette, Vexy and Hackus are on the run, trying to escape from Azrael. They jump on some storks that are at Tuileries Garden, and they fly—through the giant Ferris Wheel, over Seine River, through the flying buttresses at Notre Dame, and over a sidewalk café, until they finish by circling the model of the Statue of Liberty that sits in the middle of the Seine. We have another sequence in which the Ferris Wheel breaks off its moorings and actually rolls through the city. There is also a very fun sequence in which Hackus gets loose in a candy store; he makes trouble, and it turns into a big chase—a ride through the streets of Paris on a candy cart. Those sequences were especially fun for us.”
“The Smurfs 2” opens Aug. 7 nationwide.