I was a bit skeptical when I heard there was going to be a live action/cgi movie made about the Smurfs. I didn’t think the current generation of kids would be interested in the little blue guys (and girl!) and all their smurfiness –
I am willing to admit when I’m wrong
I was invited to be part of a press event at Sony’s Imageworks studio to get a sneak preview, see some behind-the-scenes action and interview a few of the people involved with the movie – AND to get my smurf on! (go chicky, get your smurf on, go chicky, get your smurf on…)
While we only saw a few clips from the movie, I can confidently say this is one movie we won’t be missing – producer Jordan Kerner (Stuart Little, Charlotte’s Web) and Director Raja Gosnell (Scooby Doo, Never been Kissed) spoke about “suspension of disbelief” and they were spot-on…the cgi and live action blended seamlessly, and it was easy to ENJOY the movie and not be conscious of that how-did-they-do-that aspect. My favorite part of the day was talking with two of the live action actors. Jayma Mays (Miss Pilsbury from Glee) plays Grace Winslow, who is a newly pregnant woman married to Neil Patrick Harris (lucky girl!).
Hank Azaria plays Gargamel, the smurfs’ arch enemy and nemesis. Hank may be well known for his voice-over work, but he’s been a part of some of my favorite movies, like Quiz Show, The Birdcage, and America’s Sweethearts. (have to admit a slight crush here)
It was fun to ask them about acting against the stickers and wires representing the smurfs, and I got to ask Hank about creating a chatacter who was only played by one other person (the iconic Paul Winchell). He said he at first tried to create a voice that was NOT like the original, but as the character evolved, it became much closer to Paul Winchell’s original voice-over. (/total geek moment)
We then got to try two different technologies involved in making the movie – animating a character using Mya software, and doing a voice over of one of the Smurfs! Animating a smurf was so much fun – it took a bit of getitng used to, but once you get the hang of it, it wasn’t super hard, just time-consuming. It was amazing to find out how many hours of work it took just to create a small bit of cgi animation.
Now about getting Smurfed – we got to choose which character we voiced, and since there is only ONE female smurf, I picked Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry). We were given a script, and viewed the bit of the movie we would be voicing. Then we went into the voiceover studio, which was a small, simple room with a screen and mic. After a couple of rehearsals, it was time to record. Let me tell you, it is NOT as easy as it might seem, but it was LOTS of fun! Here is me in all my smurfy glory:
I am looking forward to taking my kids to see this, and it will be even better having the little bit of behind the scenes trivia in my head while I watch The Smurfs movie will be released July 29.
Disclosure – I was invited to this press event, but was otherwise not compensated by Sony for this review – all opinions are strictly mine, including that Hank Azaria is dreamy…