That man is richest whose pleasures are cheapest.

~ Henry David Thoreau ~

Happy Smekday

July 17th, 2012 ~ Est. reading time: 2 mins, 0 secs

Is it Happy Smekday or Schmekday? Either way, it will be coming to a cinema near you.

Well it’s coming! Dreamworks Animation is working on their new animated movie, Happy Smekday.  Having bought the film rights in 2008 from Adam Rex, who wrote the children’s book, The True Meaning of Smekday, back in 2007, the people of Dreamworks are crossing their fingers they’ve got a new blockbuster.

So what’s it about? Well, the lead character is a girl of eleven, named Gratuity Tucci, or Tip for short. After her mother is abducted by aliens called Boov, Tip has to fend for herself. In the meantime, the Boov take over the Earth and rename it Smekland, after their leader, Captain Smek. Soon, special days are renamed or nominated, including Christmas, which gets reassigned as Smekday, in honor of the day Captain Smek came to Earth.

Happy Smekday takes a journey across America as humans are obliged to relocate to Florida and then, unexpectedly, to Arizona (because the Boov discover a love for oranges). On the way, Tip befriends an alien Boov called J-Lo who accidentally notifies a far more sinister alien group called the Gorg who, having conquered the Boov’s own planet are only too happy to dominate Earth. It’s up to Tip and Jo-Lo to find Tip’s mother and stop the world being destroyed by the Gorg.

Happy Smekday, like a growing number of movie length animations, deals with some deeper issues than a children’s story might imply. There’s likely to be the usual comedy and easily digestible plot that we’ve come to expect. But you can envisage it will also touch issues of identity, belonging, tolerance, and relationship, to give the story some guts.

While I have mixed feelings about many of the modern feature length animations coming from Hollywood, I can definitely see the form is going through an evolution. Increasingly, there’s less hoopla about the quality of animation and more expectation that the plot just has to be good. This means we’re getting back into the saddle of story being the central theme, and that’s certainly a good thing.

Will the film deliver? Well I’m sure Dreamworks Animation and their backers hope so. Stories that remind us of our qualities and ennoble people’s efforts are always good fare for everyone. And it’s heartening to see that Hollywood hasn’t lost its appetite for producing children’s films that give new writer a break (instead of the usual 1,2, & 3 versions). Happy Smekday may or may not translate well on the screen. But if you’re curious, you might want to check out the book (if you haven’t already) by way of a young reader near you and get their opinion.

But there’s lots of development still to be done, so don’t hold your breath. Happy Smekday is expected to appear on cinema screens sometime toward the end of 2014.


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