“The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow”is a mystery to me. It’s listed as a 2013 TV movie starring the voice talents of Hank Azaria as Gargamel, Fred Armisen as Brainy, and Alan Cumming as Gutsy—all of whom, we’re told, “reprise their role from the film.” And yet, it looks as if Sony merely added a two-minute “campout” intro and just under two-minute outro featuring 3D CGI Smurfs to what appears to be a 2D episode of the animated series from the 1980s. At least the colors, the characters, the cartoon Gargamel and his cat look as authentically ‘80s as shoulder pads or big hair.
Total runtime is just 22 minutes, so you can see that not much was added to the TV episode, if, in fact, that’s what happened.
That’s the disclaimer to this Halloween release. For some, it will be an annoyance or deal-breaker to have two styles of animation. For others, it won’t matter one bit, since the original Hanna-Barbera TV series was popular enough to air 256 episodes from 1981-1989.
At any rate, the cartoon is at least a good one. It’s fall harvest time, and to celebrate the Smurfs are having their annual Smurfberry contest to see who can bring back the most Smurfberries. Brainy’s ego is through the roof and he rubs it in the Scottish kilt-wearing Gutsy’s face that he’s won a medal each year for the past nine or so. Wanting badly to win, Gutsy follows him this time, scares him off with a headless horseman ruse, and grabs the berries for himself—then has second thoughts and returns with blonde Smurfette to look for him. That’s where they encounter Gargamel, his traps, and what appears to be a real headless horseman.
It’s yet another version of the Washington Irving tale, and probably the most innocuous one for smaller children. The Smurfs are all about cuteness, and any potentially scary situations are played almost instantly for comic effect. There are positive messages here, too, like friendship trumping competition and getting carried away with winning and bragging about it isn’t a good thing.
The cover, though, is misleading. It makes it look like a 3D CGI animated feature, when really if you look at the back you’ll see two small insets of cartoon characters that seem small, rather than accounting for a full 18 minutes of the film.
“The Legend of Smurfy Hollow” is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the colors of the main cartoon look “Smurfy.” Blues are bright, reds are brighter, and Smurfette’s hair stands out as well. There’s a decent amount of detail for a DVD, and there’s nothing in the video presentation that would disappoint.
The audio is an English, French (Parisian), or Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, with subtitles in English, English SDH, French, and Spanish.
No bonus features—not even scene selections.
This Smurf “sandwich”—3D CGI segments wrapped around a meaty 2D animated Smurfs episode—is gentle enough for small children and should evoke some nostalgia in those who grew up watching “The Smurfs” on television. But it’s only 22 minutes long.