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For Smurf’s sake, don’t rock the boat!

There are certain tropes that those of us of a certain age (cough…40ish…cough) were conditioned to expect in comedies and children’s films. The evil boss who gets their comeuppance at the end of the film, when the downbeaten hero realises they don’t have to put up with it and can Follow Their Dream instead, is perhaps the most familiar. You know the schtick, I don’t have to quote examples, and we’ve all seen it a hundred times or more. A little bit Disney, a little bit Kesey, it’s counterculture schmaltz, cathartic and gloopy, uplifting and syrupy and goshdarnit, we love its obvious feel good nonsensicality. So imagine my surprise upon encountering The Smurfs. For this film delivers an entirely different moral. In the film, which is essentially Enchanted with little blue people, our real-world male lead is Neil Patrick Gorgeous who, along with his wife, possum-eyed OCD-Glee queen Jayma Mays, forms one half of a critical mass of human cute. Neil Patrick portrays, um, Patrick the archetypal under-appreciated, over-worked, harried, hemmed-in, white collar wage slave. As the film opens he is promoted to Head of Marketing for a perfume company. This is because his predecessor has just been summarily fired by their boss, Odile, for giving her ‘what I want, not what I need!’ Odile is the odious, power dressed, psychopathic, vain, hateful, mega-spoilt superbitch we all love to hate. She could have stepped straight out of Horrible Bosses. She’s Cruella de Ville in Gucci. This perfumed plutocrat rules her company through fear, makes people dance to her whim, hires and fires with nary a thought for the consequences....

The sentimental geek strikes back

Be-caped and beguiling, Ryan Adams stages a triumphant solo return at the Barbican. Being a Ryan Adams fan can be a bit of a rollercoaster. There’s his habit of releasing everything he records, often for free, simply because he feels like it. For the record, I love it, but it drives some people nuts, and just confuses others. If mellow country classic Heartbreaker is your all-time favourite album, chances are you probably won’t be spinning his death-metal sci-fi concept album Orion all that often. Then there’s his personal life and his well documented spiral into drinks and drugs which pretty much everybody assumed would end with him choking on his own vomit in a hotel room, a la Gram Parsons. Erratic, angry, funny to himself but not others, stoned Ryan was a sad spectacle, even if the music kept flowing at a startling rate. Then there are the fans. Every fandom has a small core of nutters with a hugely inflated sense of entitlement, who make way more noise than they should and seek to spoil it for the quieter majority. The tiny coterie of fuckwits who sit at the heart of Ryan’s fanbase like some malignant tumour composed entirely of self-regard and pressure-cooker spite are as bad as the worst Doctor Who fans, and trust me, that’s some benchmark. Ryan struggles to deal with these prats, engaging with his fanbase online for periods until overwhelmed by the bile of a vocal few and retreating, shutting down accounts and websites, retreating into his shell to lick his wounds. Eventually he pops up somewhere else in some other guise, Quixotic,...