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Saturday, September 7, 2013

'The Legend of Smurfy Hollow:' Smurftastric Blue Man Family Entertainment

The direct-to-DVD mini-movie "The Legend of Smurfy Hollow," which is being released on September 10, 2013, truly is a treat for kids of all ages. It is nostalgic fun for folks who watched the smurfs' cartoon series in the '80s and a great bonus for their kids who became "blue man" fans through the recent feature films.

This production should not be confused with the upcoming Fox supernatural drama "Sleepy Hollow," which fanboys all over the world are hoping is more like the unfairly maligned "New Amsterdam" than last year's flop "Alcatraz."

Younger fans will be especially excited that many actors who provided the voices for this summer's big-screen film "The Smurfs 2" reprise their roles in "Smurfy Hollow."

For the benefit of the rest of you, the smurfs are a village of tiny blue creatures who live in a forest; the conflicts typically come in the form of either a threat from evil wizard Gargamel or through a crisis that relates to a smurf acting in accordance with his name. (Only one girl lives in this male-dominated society.) An adult-oriented example would be OCD Smurf constantly washing his hands depleting the community's water supply.

A charming-in-limited-amounts gimmick of "The Smurfs" is liberally using the word "smurf" as a substitute for other nouns and adjectives. For example, community leader Papa Smurf may direct Brainy Smurf to solve the hypothetical water problem described above by telling him to "smurf a solution before the whole village smurfs like a water buffalo."

"The Simpsons''" Hank Azaria is perhaps the best-known vocie actor in "Smurfy Hollow;"  he plays Gargamel, whose purpose largely consists of continuing his never-ending quest to hunt down his own personal blue minnows.

Azaria does a great job playing the deranged villain; his evilly exclaiming "excellent" at one point is a nice homage to "The Simpsons'" Montgomery Burns.

"SNL's" and "Portlandia's" Fred Armisen plays classic smurf Brainy Smurfy; his know-it-all lines and superior tone capture the character very well.

The wonderfully bizarre Alan Cumming fully embraces his role of Gutsy Smurf, who Cumming endows with a wonderful Scottish accent. Gutsy gets the best laughs in the production and shows that Cumming should have been cast as Scotty in a "Star Trek" incarnation.

"Star Trek's" current Chekov Anton Yelchin rounds out the the billed cast as Clumsy Smurf. Like his castmates, Yelchin does a good job with his role.

"Smurfy Hollow" begins with a CGI-animated segment in which Panicky Smurf, voiced by former "Picket Fences" moppet Adam Wylie, and the "Jersey Shore" inspired Hefty Smurf get stranded in the woods at night. Narrator Smurf shows up to entertain them with the tale of "The Legend of Smurfy Hollow."

The format then changes to the drawn form of animation ala the cartoon series. The action starts with the commencement of the annual smurfberry contest in which the smurfs vie to collect the largest quantity of those treats. One can only hope that those berrries taste as awesome as the ones in Smurfberry Crunch cereal.

Gutsy trailing nine-time champion Brainy to learn the secret of his success sets the story in motion; perils include real and imagined predators and Gargamel's pursuit. The following clip. courtesy of YouTube, does a nice job providing a sense of the film.

The moral of this review is that "Smurfy Hollow" is an entirely child-friendly take on a classic tale that almost certainly will prompt most younger viewers to read the Washington Irving story.

Anyone who wants to smurf Reviewer Smurf a smurf regarding "Smurfy Hollow" can smurf him; you can also smurf him via Twitter by smurfing @tvdvdguy.