Pitch Meeting: The Smurfs in 3-D

[Scene: A conference room at a movie studio two years ago.]

STUDIO EXEC #1: Gentlemen, I was rummaging around in the Dumpster behind the studio offices yesterday, and guess what I found?

STUDIO EXEC #2: Nick Nolte?

STUDIO EXEC #1: No.

STUDIO EXEC #3: Nick Nolte's arm?

STUDIO EXEC #1: No.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Was it any part of Nick Nolte?

STUDIO EXEC #1: No! I found this document that says our studio owns the rights to make a Smurfs movie.

STUDIO EXEC #3: A Smurfs movie!?

STUDIO EXEC #2: And someone threw that away?! That's madness!

STUDIO EXEC #1: I know! There was a treatment for a Huckleberry Hound movie in there, too. People are so wasteful.

STUDIO EXEC #3: So are we going to make a Smurfs movie?

STUDIO EXEC #1: You bet your smurfin' butt we are!

STUDIO EXEC #2: Haha, "smurfin'!" That is hilarious!

STUDIO EXEC #3: Because it's like you were going to say some other word, but you replaced it with "smurf"!

STUDIO EXEC #2: It's funny because it's true!

STUDIO EXEC #1: Hey, maybe I should write the screenplay myself!

[All laugh merrily]

STUDIO EXEC #1: Ah, if only I knew how to write or spell or type or turn on a computer. Anyway, whoever we hire to write the thing, we need to make sure they include lots of "smurf" words.

STUDIO EXEC #3: Absolutely.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Are you thinking animated, or live-action? When I was a kid in the '80s, before I started doing cocaine full-time, I watched The Smurfs on TV, and I'm pretty sure it was a cartoon.

STUDIO EXEC #3: It would be easier to make it animated. They've got computers now where you just tell them what you want and they poop out a cartoon.

STUDIO EXEC #1: I know, I saw Cars 2. But I don't want to take the easy route this time.

STUDIO EXEC #2: ... What?

STUDIO EXEC #3: I ... don't follow.

STUDIO EXEC #2: There's a route other than the easy route?

STUDIO EXEC #1: I want to make the film in live-action, except for the Smurfs. The Smurfs themselves will be animated.

STUDIO EXEC #3: Brilliant!

STUDIO EXEC #2: A bold decision!

STUDIO EXEC #3: It's an unprecedented use of technology, and also exactly what they did with the Chimpunks and Yogi Bear!

STUDIO EXEC #1: Precisely! It's revolutionary, yet depressingly familiar!

STUDIO EXEC #2: I assume we'll have beloved celebrities perform the voices of The Smurfs?

STUDIO EXEC #1: Yes. Beloved celebrities, and also George Lopez.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Oh, right. I forgot about the Hollywood city ordinance about him.

STUDIO EXEC #3: What ordinance? I'm not familiar with it.

STUDIO EXEC #2: "Any movie with talking animals must include George Lopez as one of the voices."

STUDIO EXEC #1: Beverly Hills Chihuahua, Marmaduke, Rio...

STUDIO EXEC #3: The Smurfs aren't "animals," though, are they? Technically? We could maybe get around that.

STUDIO EXEC #1: Eh, it's easier to just let him record a few lines than to deal with a lawsuit later on.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Yeah, we're in enough trouble with the law as it is for failing to cast Martin Lawrence in Furry Vengeance.

STUDIO EXEC #3: Now, as I recall, the only human in The Smurfs was Gargamel. We can probably get someone who looks like the character already, like Danny DeVito, or Bob Hoskins, or the Throw Momma from the Train lady.

STUDIO EXEC #1: We could, but where's the fun in that? We should get someone who looks nothing like Gargamel and spend a lot of money on elaborate makeup and prosthetics.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Yes! Someone super-famous, some legendary actor who's willing to tweak his image by playing an ugly villain, so that when people see the film they'll say, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe that's So-and-So!"

STUDIO EXEC #3: Hank Azaria it is!

STUDIO EXEC #1: Perfect!

STUDIO EXEC #2: We have to take the movie out of the weird little forest where the Smurf village is. That's boring. Kids today can't relate to forests or villages.

STUDIO EXEC #3: Or Smurfs.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Good point. Can we lose the Smurfs altogether?

STUDIO EXEC #1: Normally I would say yes. But you're losing sight of the goal here, which is to capitalize on nostalgia for a long-forgotten creative property -- nostalgia that does not exist. Since no one is actually interested in a Smurfs movie, we have to convince them that they are interested by convincing them that everyone else is interested. We have to make it seem like the Smurfs are the latest retro craze! And we can't do that unless the film is littered with Smurfs.

STUDIO EXEC #3: Can we have the Smurfs go to New York City?

STUDIO EXEC #1: Yes, obviously.

STUDIO EXEC #2: And fall into toilets and play Guitar Hero and harass Neil Patrick Harris?

STUDIO EXEC #1: Again, yes, obviously, these things will occur.

STUDIO EXEC #3: But who will direct this masterwork? Combining live-action with animation is difficult, and the style of humor will require a delicate balance of artistry and fart jokes. Who can accomplish this?

STUDIO EXEC #1: I bet we can get the guy who directed Home Alone 3, Big Momma's House, Scooby-Doo, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua.

STUDIO EXEC #2: You mean Raja Gosnell?!

STUDIO EXEC #3: Do you really think we can get him?

STUDIO EXEC #2: I thought he was still in prison for war crimes!

STUDIO EXEC #1: No, he and Nick Swardson escaped together! And I happen to know he's looking for work, because that's what the cardboard sign he was holding at the bottom of the off-ramp said.

STUDIO EXEC #2: Today is like Christmas! Only better, because our families aren't here!

STUDIO EXEC #3: Studio Exec Number One, you are one brilliant mothersmurfer.

********

Previous "Pitch Meeting" columns: Dance Flick, The Bounty Hunter, Killers, Grown-Ups, Devil, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.