The Smurfs 2 opens in theaters across the country this week. To celebrate Hollywood’s latest entry in the ever-evolving live-action/animated genre, here’s a look at some of our favorite movies that mashed up the real and cartoon worlds to Smurfy good effect!
Gertie the Dinosaur (1914)
The live action/animation tradition dates all the way back to 1914, when cartoonist Winsor McCay made this classic short featuring a live-action narrator interacting with an animated Dinosaur. Although technology has improved vastly since this was made, the inherent charm of the genre is on full display.
The Three Caballeros (1944)
Walt Disney Studios is responsible for creating some of the greatest movies to combine animation and live-action technologies, including this early classic in which Donald Duck shakes his tail feather with the very human and very lovely Aurora Miranda.
Mary Poppins (1964)
Julie Andrews won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Actress playing the title role in Disney’s family classic, while co-star Dick Van Dyke received a Golden Globe nomination for his delightful contributions to the film, which include dancing with a group of very animated penguins.
The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964)
Like Disney, Warner Brothers made a name for itself in animation with its own cast of lovable cartoon characters, the Looney Tunes players. Here the studio swam into the live-action/animation waters and came up with this family favorite starring Don Knotts as a mild-mannered bookkeeper who is magically transformed into an animated fish.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)
Disney ushered in the ‘70s with this beloved, Mary Poppins-esque musical about an apprentice witch (Angela Lansbury) assigned to nanny three young British refugees from London during World War II. Like Poppins, Bedknobs took home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects for its bewitching mix of live-action and animation.
Heavy Traffic (1973)
Better tuck the kiddies into bed first before watching this live-action/animation hybrid from provocateur Ralph Bakshi (Fritz the Cat). The film’s plot revolves around a young artist who escapes the harsh realities of life in ‘70s-era New York City by satirizing them in a series of outrageously brazen cartoons frequently set against a live backdrop.
Pete's Dragon (1977)
Although the majority of Disney’s family musical is live-action, the title character was animated by Don Bluth, who would go on to direct the strictly animated classics An American Tail and The Land Before Time. Here he shows future hybrid filmmakers the trick to making the genre fly: be sure to make your animated characters as relatable as your human ones.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
A decade later, Disney released what is considered the greatest live-action/animated hybrid ever made. Because of the film’s more mature sensibility, the studio distributed it under its newly formed, adult-friendly Touchstone Pictures banner. Regardless, the film was a massive hit with adults and children alike, thanks to its wondrous combination of film noir grit and cartoonish fun.
Space Jam (1996)
Basketball legend Michael Jordan tried his hand at movie stardom with this live-action/animated sports comedy. Jordan proved himself equally adept playing with the Looney Tunes gang on the big screen as he is with teammates on the court.
Based on the popular animated TV series, this live-action horror comedy hit featured then-teen sensations Freddie Prinze Jr., Sarah Michelle Gellar, Linda Cardellini and Matthew Lillard acting opposite a completely CGI-animated Scooby.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003)
A new decade, a new live-action comedy featuring Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. This time, the classic Looney Tunes characters act opposite a more conventional Hollywood leading man, Brendan Fraser. This critically acclaimed family film was directed by Gremlins helmer Joe Dante, who certainly knows his way around the chaos caused by human/creature interactions.
Garfield: The Movie (2004)
In this live-action adaptation of the Jim Davis comic strip, human co-stars Breckin Meyer and Jennifer Love Hewitt act opposite an amusingly sardonic CGI-animated cat, voiced by Bill Murray.
Charlotte's Web (2006)
The beloved children’s book gets the live-action/computer-animated treatment in this charming movie starring Dakota Fanning and a menagerie of CGI-animated animals voiced by the likes of Julia Roberts, Robert Redford, Oprah Winfrey and more.
Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)
Everyone’s favorite Saturday morning cartoon hit the big screen and minted a box office bonanza. Jason Lee stars as the ever-beleaguered human David Seville, while CGI wizards bring the ever-rocking Alvin, Simon and Theodore to life.
Disney poked fun at its animated conventions with this live-action musical comedy in which Disney princess Giselle is banished from the animated world of Andalasia and sent to the live-action world of modern-day New York City, where she assumes the human form of the cartoonishly expressive Amy Adams.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Tim Burton’s live-action and computer-animated fantasy stars Mia Wasikowska as 19-year-old Alice, who enters a Wonderland populated by a mix of CGI-animated characters and human co-stars. Johnny Depp's eyes literally bulge as the Mad Hatter, thanks to computer generated technology.
The Smurfs 2 (2013)
As animation and film technologies continue to evolve, the potential for even more spectacular live-action/animated movies continues to grow. What are some of your favorite films to combine the two?