Picture of the CGI Smurfs!!

First look: 'The Smurfs' hitting the Big Apple, in 3-D, in 2011 By Anthony Breznican, USA TODAY

The Smurfs are three apples tall, according to creator Peyo. Of course, that doesn't mean much in the Big Apple.

A live-action comedy about the little blue forest-dwellers is being shot in New York, and here is a first peek at the formerly 2-D Grouchy, Papa and Clumsy, reimagined through computer animation and eventual 3-D projection. A trailer makes its debut Thursday on Yahoo.com; the film arrives in August 2011.

Until now, the Smurfs have existed only in the Middle Ages among knights, kings and wizards, such as their nemesis Gargamel (played by Hank Azaria) and his cat Azrael.

During the opening scene, set in that original time, Gargamel discovers the Smurfs' magical village and scatters them into the woods. "Unfortunately, Clumsy goes the wrong way into a forbidden grotto where a few other Smurfs follow," says director Raja Gosnell. "Because it's a blue moon, there's a magical portal that transports them to Central Park."

Returning home is more complicated as Gargamel pursues them. The trio pictured — along with Smurfette, Brainy and a new character, the brave-to-a-fault Gutsy — take refuge with a husband and wife (Neil Patrick Harris and Glee's Jayma Mays).

Eating the Smurfs was always Gargamel's unfulfilled goal, but that's one idea the filmmakers decided to scrap. "We all wondered whether we would be making a family version of Sweeney Todd," jokes producer Jordan Kerner (Charlotte's Web). Now, Gargamel simply wants to capture the Smurfs to serve as charms, whose mystical essence will make his inept magic more powerful — and dangerous.

You'll see the Smurfs "as fully living, breathing creatures," Gosnell says. "They're little mammals. They're vulnerable little creatures in our big modern world."

Heart is important in the film, but also a sense of humor. The Smurfs are so sweet and innocent that their clash with cynical city life was devised to provide some contrast and edge.

Dad and Mom may be amused by the out-of-the-mouths-of-babes naiveté of the characters, who speak the blunt truth that little kids sometimes do. "They see (Harris) putting on a tie, and wonder whether it's a leash. Then they think he's a merchant of beautiful cloth, or that he deals in sales — as in 'sail' boats," Kerner says. "He has to admit he wears it because everyone else wears it, and that's not something they understand."

Picture of Hank Azaria as Gargamel!

The Smurfs Movie advert!