Australian Council on Children and the Media

Smurfs, The

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Not recommended under 5, Parental guidance recommended to 8 (Violence; Scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Smurfs, The
  • a review of Smurfs, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 13 September 2011.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children aged 5-8 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes
Children over 8 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Smurfs, The
Classification: G
Consumer advice lines: Some scenes may scare young children
Length 103 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This film is loosely based on the cartoon characters created by Peyo in the 1950s, which were later developed into an American animated television series.  This story focuses upon life in the Smurf village, which is located deep within an isolated forest. The village consists of one elder-figure, Papa Smurf (voice of Jonathon Winters) and 100 younger Smurfs, who live together in a family-like relationship.  All but one of the Smurfs (Smurfette, or “Girl Smurf”, who is voiced by Katy Perry) are male, and each is named according to their individual dispositions or occupations.  The Smurfs include:  Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchin), Gutsy (voice of Alan Cumming), Brainy (voice of Fred Armisen), Grouchy (voice of George Lopez), Narrator (voice of Tom Kane), Baker (voiced by B.J. Novak), Crazy (voice of John Cassir), and Jokey (voice of Paul Reubens).

The Smurfs’ peaceful existence is disturbed by the evil plans of wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria), who constantly seeks to capture the little blue creatures and use them as ingredients for a spell to turn lead into gold.  In a bid to escape from Gargamel, several Smurfs jump into a space vortex that appears in the sky and, after a tumultuous journey, find themselves in New York City.  From this point on, the Smurfs’ primary objective is finding a means to return to their village, and avoid being captured by Gargamel and his cat Azrael (voice of Frank Welker), who have followed them to New York.  On their adventures, the Smurfs meet, and come to rely upon, advertising executive Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) and his pregnant wife Grace (Jayma Mays).

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Separation from loved ones; violence towards animals

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is repeated cartoon-style violence that does not result in realistic outcomes, such as when:

  • Numerous scenes depict the Smurfs slapping, hitting and kicking one another;
  • Patrick punches and slaps several Smurfs who are hiding in his jacket and also swats at the Smurfs with an umbrella;
  • The Smurfs surround Gargamel, and pelt him with eggs and apples implanted with pins;
  • Several Smurfs hit Gargamel over the head with a frying pan;
  • Gargamel sneaks up on Clumsy and tries to capture him in a net;
  • Smurfette hits the cat Azrael in the head;
  • Two unidentified criminals grab Gargamel and threaten to hurt him;
  • Gutsy ties up Patrick and threatens him; and
  • An unidentified girl runs up and kicks Patrick in the shin.

There are also a number of scenes depicting more realistic violence, such as when:

  • Gargamel chases Papa Smurf with a club and threatens him with a switch razor;
  • Gargamel sucks several Smurfs up into a gardening leaf-vacuum machine;
  • Gargamel chases the Smurfs with an electric wand
  • Gargamel fires arcs of electric current at Papa Smurf and it appears that he will die;
  • Several other scenes depict Gargamel chasing and lunging aggressively at the Smurfs;
  • Gargamel throws his cat Azrael at Clumsy;
  • Gargamel intentionally stomps on Azrael’s tail;
  • Gargamel throws Azrael off a table;
  • Grace hits Azrael with her handbag with enough force to fling the cat across the room;
  • Several scenes show the cat Azrael chasing, hissing and clawing at the Smurfs;
  • A dog chases the Smurfs; and
  • The Smurfs and Patrick arm themselves with improvised weapons, such as pitchforks and tyre-irons, in preparation for a fight with Gargamel.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including:

  • Some depictions of Papa Smurf’s “visions”, which feature ghost-like apparitions; and
  • Gargamel takes on an eerie, mystical appearance when casting spells.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Clumsy almost falls over a cliff.  Several Smurfs come to his rescue, but also almost fall to their deaths;

  • Several other scenes depict Clumsy having a range of painful accidents, such as falling over, falling off things, and banging his head;
  • Papa Smurf is shown chained to menacing magical devices within Gargamel’s lair;
  • Gargamel runs into a metal pole;
  • The Smurfs jump into a vortex in order to escape Gargamel.  It appears that they could die; and
  • Several Smurfs get crushed in the doors of an elevator.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

Some products are displayed or used in this movie, including:

  • Swatch watches
  • M and M chocolates
  • Mercedes cars
  • Google
  • Guitar Hero computer game

There is also a considerable amount of Smurf merchandise associated with the film.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie including: 

  • Smurfette says of Patrick, “someone looks smurfilicious”;
  • Smurfette sings an altered version of the Katy Perry song, I kissed a girl (and I liked it), singing, “I kissed a Smurf, and I liked it”;
  • Gutsy talks about, “grabbing life by the cockles”.

In addition, some scenes appear to make veiled references to an incestuous relationship between the Smurfs. While the film indicates that Smurfette is not biologically related to the boy Smurfs, it implies that they have grown up together in brother-sister style relationships, and there are several references throughout the story of the Smurfs as a “family”. 

In an early scene, Gargamel, who is shown holding puppet versions of Papa Smurf and Smurfette and talking to himself about the Smurfs, makes a comment about the fact that there is only one female in the whole village, questioning the normality of this.

Another scene includes a spoof of the famous Marilyn Monroe air-vent scene from The Seven Year Itch. Smurfette's dress is blown into the air by the floor-heating system. The boy Smurfs respond with appreciative “oohs” and “ahhs”, and Smurfette looks at them suggestively and says, “oh, sorry boys – that’s not what I had in mind”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is one scene involving implied inappropriate body exposure, when Gargamel moves behind a trolley in a restaurant and urinates into an ice bucket. 

There are some scenes involving kissing, including Grace and Patrick sharing a passionate kiss at the end of the film.

Use of substances

There is some substance use in this movie, including scenes where characters are depicted drinking alcoholic cocktails.

Coarse language

There is some coarse and threatening language, and several put-downs in this film that children may imitate, including:

  • “Oh my God”
  • “I was about to make haggis of your innards”
  •  “Psych-loving morons”
  • “Eye-offending dogfish”.

In addition, many scenes involve a form of mock-swearing, where common phrases have been modified by replacing the expletives with the word “smurf”.  Examples include:

  •  “Where the smurf are we?”
  •  “I’ll be smurfed”
  • “The whole smurfin’ …”
  • “You smurfed the wrong girl”

In a nutshell

The Smurfs is a children’s comedy, which features a juxtaposition of animation and live acting.  Its principle message centres upon the value of teamwork, shared goals and family relationships. It could be enjoyed by all but very young children as well as some parents who were fans of the original Smurfs. Parents, however, may be concerned by the representation of the cat character as calculating and evil, the frequent violence, mock swearing, and the occasionally sexual references. At 103 minutes, the film is also rather long for children.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • team work and cooperation
  • loyalty
  • courage

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

The negative outcomes of violence towards humans or animals, and alternative means of resolving conflict.

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