Alan Dee’s movie guide (09.08.11)

SORRY, but there are times when the old noggin just does not compute. You come across what appear to be random words or phrases and you can’t for the life of you make any sense out of them.

Here’s an example: Smurfs, 3D and summer blockbuster. What on earth does that mean?

Surely nobody in their right mind has lavished millions of dollars on bringing the uber-irritating blue gonks with the Pinky & Perky voices to the big screen, and then bunged it out in 3D to boot? How on earth could that happen?

Oh, apparently it has. The Smurfs is out this week. OK, deep breath, regroup, let’s get back in the game.

There’s a story, apparently. The blue brigade – including characters voiced by the likes of Alan Cumming, for shame, and big screen debutant Katy Perry, showing hubby Russell Brand’s facility for fouling up a line – are chased out of their own weird world and on to the mean streets of New York. No, don’t ask.

Stuck in Central Park, they need some human help to get home, and first to come to their aid is querulous Neil Patrick Harris, once known to the wide world as teenage doctor Doogie Howser MD and now a mainstay of the Friends de nos jours, sassy sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

Where Jim Carrey in last week’s Mr Popper’s Penguins has to rub along with flightless birds, our hero shares screen time with characters who look as if they would be best located on the end of pencils, and I’ll happily volunteer to stick them there.

Of course it’s only supposed to be a bit of summer froth, the writers can claim a credit from Shrek 2 so there ought to be some quality in the script, but you still can’t help yourself mulling those words – Smurfs, 3D, blockbuster – around your head and muttering, in baffled but ultimately resigned tones: Why?

> Apparently we really need another run at Planet Of The Apes, because one of these years they are going to get the monkey lips right and the simian simulation will finally convince.

James Franco is the Charlton Heston here, the human at the centre of the story, while Andy ‘Gollum’ Serkis is the lead banana muncher.

In Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes Franco is a boffin whose brain therapy brainwave is intended for humans, but when it is tested on chimps they quickly develop to the stage where they start wondering why they should stand for being used as tea party fodder, and revolution is in the air. It’s a sort of prequel to the original story and is well done, but somehow fails to grip.

> Left field release of the week is The Devil’s Double, in which that nice Dominic ‘Mamma Mia!’ Cooper is a solid soldier who gets stuck with a job he’d rather not do – acting as a double for the psycho sadist son of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

It’s a fascinating true story and Coop also gets the chance to chew up the scenery as the late and very unlamented Uday Hussein, a grade A nutter who combined a love of fast cars and football with a penchant for senseless sadism.