Tra-la-la-la-la-la... The Smurfs capped off the summer with a live-action sequel full of fun and hijinks, and as autumn approaches, the gang of lovable little blue characters are back with an all-new, Halloween-themed special mini-movie combining live-action with the traditional, hand-drawn animation of the beloved Saturday morning cartoons.
"My attachment to this story is really the fall," The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow director Stephan Franck (whose credits include The Iron Giant and Despicable Me) tells ETonline. "The history of it, the colors of it, the spookiness of it a little bit, that's what was really great in this -- within the Smurfs' universe, to bring in ... a little bit of the mystery, which is in the books. I think there is an artistry to the fall, the colors are really inspiring."
The Smurf-tastic special bookends the traditional Saturday-morning-styled animation with a live-action/CGI-animated scene with Smurfs around a campfire, sharing some scary tales. Gutsy Smurf (voiced by Alan Cumming), Brainy Smurf (voiced by Fred Armisen), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin), Smurfette (Melissa Sturm) and, of course, Gargamel (Hank Azaria) all take part in the yarn of an annual autumn Smurfy competition that leads to a scary confrontation with none other than the Headless Horseman!
"We didn't want to do something pretty scary, like the Tim Burton version [of Sleepy Hollow], because it's a different audience," says Franck of how they handled the look of Washington Irving's iconic character. "We went in the direction of making him ghostly, so he's kind of a glow-in-the-dark ghost -- it says scary, and it gives you all the visual intensity, but it doesn't have the darkness of something that wouldn't be right for our audience."
The French-born Franck adds, "As a kid reading The Smurfs, I always felt it was about siblings and sibling rivalry. What I love about The Smurfs is they're not sugar-coated in terms of the little quirks and flaws that the characters have. They can be a bit petty and competing for validation all that stuff, but at the end of the day, when something really happens, or when one of them feels really bad, then they all rally about that and it really becomes like, 'We are family. This is what really matters.'"
The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow is out on DVD today from Sony Pictures Animation and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.