Friday, April 7, 2017
Smurfs: The Lost Village (SPOILER-FILLED) Adoption Movie Review
The evil wizard Gargamel has long desired to capture the Smurfs. The small, blue, peaceful creatures are very magical, and Gargamel hopes to use them as ingredients in the potions that will make him the most powerful wizard in the world. He doesn’t know where the Smurf Village is, though, and that has kept the Smurfs safe. One of Gargamel’s most devious plans to capture the Smurfs occurred when he created Smurfette out of clay, and sent her to the all-male Smurf Village with the intent of capturing the Smurfs through her. Papa Smurf used his own magic to turn Smurfette from a villainous evil creature into a true, good Smurf.
Now, Gargamel has learned of this existence of another tribe of smurfs, and he sets off again in an effort to fulfill his evil plans.
SPOILERS AHEAD THE REST OF THE WAY
The Adoption Connection
There’s quite a bit of adoption relevance here. Smurfette was created by the evil wizard, Gargamel. She was adopted into the Smurf family after Papa Smurf worked magic to turn her good, but because of her origins she has always doubted whether she is a real Smurf. Additionally, all the other Smurfs have names that reflect their distinct personalities and skills – there’s Grumpy Smurf, Brainy Smurf, and even Therapist Smurf, but Smurfette’s name doesn’t reveal much about her personality.
The other Smurfs try to use a machine to reveal information about her to help her find her identity, but it doesn’t work, because she absorbs energy rather than reflecting it, because she isn’t a true Smurf.
Gargamel captures Smurfette, and demands that she call him Papa. She refuses. Gargamel learns of other Smurfs because of evidence that Smurfette has in her possession when Gargamel captures her. When she learns of Gargamel’s plan to capture the other Smurfs, she sets off to warn them. She sees Gargamel in peril and decides to save him too, because being a Smurf means doing the right thing. Gargamel betrays her, leaves her for dead, and proceeds with his evil plan. Later, he tells Smurfette that she had to help him – by saving him and by showing him the existence of the other Smurfs – because it was her destiny and what she was created to do.
The theme of Smurfette not being “a real Smurf” is repeated frequently throughout the film. Eventually, she embraces this part of her identity and uses it to trick Gargamel. His magic can’t change her, because she isn’t biologically a Smurf; when he tries to turn her evil again, all of his magic is sucked from his body. This kills Smurfette and turns her into the lump of clay that she once was, but she is revived by the love of the other Smurfs.
In one sense, I like that Smurfette embraces her unique identity, and that an aspect of her unique origin helps her be the hero to her newfound family. In this sense, it reminds me of the recent Jungle Book movie, where Mowgli uses a “human trick” to save his jungle family. However, I wish that the film found a better way to say this – perhaps Smurfette could have said “I am a real Smurf – and there’s something unique about me that can help me win,” but instead, her repeated mantra of “I’m not a real Smurf” could be painful to kids touched by adoption who doubt their own place of belonging in their adoptive family.
Smurfette is able to use her unique origin to defeat Gargamel and save the Smurfs.
(SPOILER) By the end of the film, Smurfette has found other female Smurfs.
Smurfette is brave, courageous, and determined to do the right thing.
Papa Smurf expresses that, although Smurfette “never thought she was a true Smurf,” in reality, “she was the truest Smurf of all.”
Gargamel cruelly refers to Smurfette’s origins. He refers to himself as “the man who brought you into the world,” demands that she call him “Papa,” describes Smurfette as a “pseudo-smurf,” and implies that her destiny is only to help him. He tells her, “No matter how hard you try, you can’t escape your destiny… You’re only a lump of clay.” He also captures her and keeps her locked in a birdcage. This could be hard for children who have been abused by their birth family prior to coming into foster care, it could create an unrealistically negative picture of birthfamily members for other kids, and could be hard for kids struggling with questions of identity.
Smurfette tricks Gargamel by pretending to have switched her allegiance to him. The other Smurfs don’t immediately recognize that this is a trick, and are heartbroken to hear her refer to Gagamel as “my true Papa.”
In a mid-credits scene, Gargamel tells his cat, “I know it might be hard for you to grasp, but I’m not your real father.”
Smurfs: The Lost Village will probably catch many adoptive families off guard with the pronounced theme of Smurfette’s origin and her doubts as to whether she is truly a “real Smurf.” Although she eventually uses the properties that flow from her unique origin in order to defeat the evil Gargamel, the repeated mantra of “I’m not a real Smurf” and Gargamel’s insistence that her only purpose is to serve him – her “real Papa” who “brought her into the world” could be pretty hard for the young viewers that this film is most likely to interest. I think it’s a safer pick for kids ages 10 and up, but kids that old might find the film a bit boring.
Questions for Discussion
Is Papa Smurf right when he says that Smurfette was “the truest Smurf of all?” If so, what is more important than her origin?
What name do you think would fit Smurfette the best?
Who gets to choose who Smurfette’s “real Papa” is?
If you were a Smurf, what do you think your Smurf name would be?