Kids' movies: treat or torture?

The Smurfs

As a school holiday treat, my five-year-old and I went to see The Smurfs at the local cinema.

It might have been a treat for her, but it was 102 minutes of sheer, unadulterated hell for me. It was, without question, the worst children’s movie I have ever seen, and I’m a veteran of a few. I ate a 500g box of Malteesers to dull the pain. It didn’t work.

The Smurfs makes Alvin And The Chipmunks, The Squeakquel look like Citizen Kane.

Why? Let me count the ways.

Is it the use of the word ‘smurf’ as noun, verb and adjective? For example, ‘That’s smurfalicious!’ or, ‘Let’s go smurfing at the beach,’ or even, ‘I smurf you!’

From a feminist point of view, I’m a little disturbed that Smurfette is the only female smurf in the entire mushroom village. She seems like a sweet girl, but I worry about her lack of female friendship and hope like hell she’s not solely responsible for laundering all those little white hats.

Then there’s the song, ‘La la la la la la. Sing a happy song. La la la la la la. Smurf the whole day long.’ Quite frankly, I’m surprised the UN hasn’t mentioned the Smurf Song in its convention against torture.

Without wanting to spoil the plot (impossible because there is none), I’ll just let you know at the end of the movie, it’s hugs all round. Everyone smurfs everyone. Except the bad guy, who gets royally smurfed.


Of course, my daughter loved the movie – she said it was the best movie she’s ever seen. But she’s five and still thinks becoming a princess is a viable career option. I’ll give her a few more years before I splash the icy waters of reality on her beautiful little face.

Before you go thinking I am a grumpy cow oblivious to the magic of kids’ movies, I’d like to say there are some I have loved. They’ve dazzled me with their originality, wit and warmth. I can watch them over and over again. For me, it’s always about the story – if the animation is cutting edge, that’s a bonus, but script eats production for breakfast every time in my opinion.

For the record, my three favourite kids’ movies of all time are:

  • Finding Nemo. Although a friend recently pointed out that the only female character in the entire ocean is dopey Dory, I adore this movie. Call me a hypocrite (ref Smurfette above), but I’d never noticed and I don’t care. Nemo is a fantastic story of love and adventure and it’s hilarious. I’m also a fan of The Incredibles and Toy Story. This might be controversial, but I think Pixar is all over Dreamworks, although Shrek deserves special mention.
  • The Sound Of Music. Don’t judge me, but as a 12-year-old I thought Fredrich was hot. Even in his floral lederhosen.
  • Matilda. I’m a sucker for Roald Dahl, but this Danny DeVito adaptation is a gem. The story of a bookish little girl whose parents can’t stand her and whose headmistress torments her is proof that kids movies can be fun without being sugar-coated.

Just for fun, here’s a one man Disney movie:

And here’s some of our favourite kids’ movies:

What about you? Did you see any kids’ movies these school holidays? What are your best and worst kids’ movies of all time? You can be smurfing honest.

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