‘The Smurfs 2′ Review

Published 1 year ago by

smurfs 2 review The Smurfs 2 Review

The Smurfs 2 - sequel to the live-action/CGI Smurfs movie released back in 2011 – starts by recounting the backstory for Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry), the lone female living in Smurf village, who was designed by the wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) to sow the seeds of discord within the male Smurf population. Papa Smurf (the late Jonathan Winters) used a secret magical spell to turn Smufette good, but the latter still has nightmares about turning back into her original malicious self – and betraying the other members of her minuscule, blue-skinned, adopted family.

Meanwhile, back in the present-day world, Gargamel has become an international celebrity – thanks to a Youtube video of him getting squashed by a car becoming a viral hit – and now spends his days entertaining the people of Paris, by performing magic using his dwindling remnants of “Smurf essence.” Of course, the evil sorcerer hasn’t abandoned his plans to rule the world using the Smurfs, and his latest scheme involves learning the spell that Papa Smuf used on Smurfette – with help from his Smurf-like grey-skinned creations (which he has dubbed Naughties), misbehaving Vexy (Christina Ricci) and dim-witted Hackus (J.B. Smoove).

The Smurfs 2 2013 The Smurfs 2 Review

Vixy, Smurfette and Hackus

Let’s cut to the chase: if either you and/or your children/younger relatives enjoyed watching the previous Smurfs movie, then chances are good that you will like The Smurfs 2 just as much (if not more). The new installment was directed by Raja Gosnell and based on a screen story written by David Ronn, Jay Scherick, J. David Stem and David N. Weiss – the same people who made the first Smurfs flick. They have essentially recycled their lucrative recipe for a successful kids’ movie here (with assistance from Chicken Run and Spiderwick Chronicles co-writer, Karey Kirkpatrick).

Everyone else: the Smurfs sequel is, in some regards, a slight improvement on its predecessor, since the movie contains more of the timeless humor, quirky fairy tale charm, and meaningful spiritual lessons for youngsters that’ve been present in the best Smurf movie/TV show projects made in the past – all of which are based on Belgian artist Peyo’s original comic property (created in 1958). On the other hand, that makes it all the more frustrating to have to report that such elements have (again) been grounded into pieces by the cogs of the Hollywood machine – in a movie that more often than not feels like the cinematic equivalent of a cynical studio executive’s checklist of items that need to be included (so to produce a ‘hip’ PG-Rated flick with broad appeal).

smurfs 2 harris mays gleeson The Smurfs 2 Review

Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson in ‘The Smurfs 2′

The central storyline – focused on Gargamel and the Naughties’ efforts to turn Smurfette bad – deals with substantial issues like nature vs. nurture and free will vs. pre-destination in a way that kids can understand, but the execution is muddled – meaning, by the end, Smurfs 2 has not really taught the lessons that it purports to have gotten across (via Papa Smurf’s dialogue). There is also a curious subplot where Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez) decides to try and change his natural personality – which generates the (unintentional) implication that male and female Smurfs are not equally capable of choice. (Not to say that kids are going to walk away with a similar belief about men and women – that issue was raised as a way to illustrate how messy the film’s narrative qualities are.)

Part of the blame for those storytelling problems – like in the first Smurfs movie – lies with the human characters: Patrick Winslow (Neal Patrick Harris) and his wife Grace (Jayma Mays), plus the new additions of their son Blue (Jacob Tremblay) and Patrick’s boisterous father-in-law Victor (Brendan Gleeson). Patrick’s character arc in the sequel involves his lingering resentment about Victor taking the place of his biological father – a storyline that will resonate more with younger moviegoers than Pat’s paternal fears in the previous installment. Unfortunately, that also means that Pat spends the entirety of Smurfs 2 swinging back and forth between acting like an easily-irritated kid and adult – and not even the charisma of NPH is powerful enough to make the character anything more than (sorta) tolerably-annoying.

smurfs 2 grouchy vanity papa smurf The Smurfs 2 Review

Vanity, Papa and Grouchy Smurf

More importantly, the flesh-and-blood humans’ relevance to Smurfette’s storyline is often trivial and their roles could’ve easily been reworked (or left out altogether). That is to say, it can be painfully obvious at times that they were included just as a means to save time/effort/money that would’ve otherwise been spent animating the CGI Smurfs (case in point: many of NPH’s scenes involve him just transporting the hidden Smurfs from place to place). Combine that with factors like the film’s multiple scenes of uninspired slapstick – and the continued use of “Smurf” to crack inappropriate adult jokes and make tedious pop culture references (some of which are bizarrely obscure) – and much of Smurfs 2 winds up feeling lazily derivative of the worst aspects found in other kid-friendly features (see: DreamWorks’ weakest animated features).

As mentioned before, that’s all the more frustrating because there is a worthwhile story and talented cast featured in Smurfs 2 – a movie that could’ve been worth of a general recommendation, had more passion and skill been invested to make it a good kid-friendly film (rather than a bland easy-to-sell product for young ones). That holds true for the use of 3D in the movie, which includes effective sequences revolving around set pieces like the Notre Dame cathedral and the Eiffel Tower – however, for the most part, the 3D doesn’t add significant depth to the picture, nor does it offer much in the way of fun pop-out action onscreen.

However, when all is said and done, The Smurfs 2 really was tailor-made just for audience members who approved of the entertainment provided by its predecessor (no more, no less). If you fall into that category, there’s honestly no shame in you going to check out the sequel. Everyone else? You’re probably better off just re-visiting one of the better kids’ movies playing in theaters (see: Despicable Me 2).

In case you’re still undecided, here is the trailer for The Smurfs 2:

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The Smurfs 2 is 105 minutes long and Rated PG for some rude humor and action. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.

Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

TAGS: the smurfs, the smurfs 2

21 Comments

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  1. When I see a 2 star review the first thing that enters my mind is “poop”

  2. Trailers I’ve seen and the review I read this morning in my local paper make this movie seem not very kid appropriate.

    The review said it’s a bit dark and the trailer I saw in the theater had some crass jokes that I don’t think kids should be repeating.

    • They are repeating these jokes on the playground when you’re not around, anyway. And some fairy tales are VERY dark, which is necessary to the child’s healthy development.

      • VERY dark stories are “necessary” for a child’s healthy development…that’s possibly one of the strangest (and creepiest) sentiments I’ve ever heard.

        • Not as strange or creepy as a witch trying to put Hansel and Gretel into a fire so she can eat them.

        • @Tyr25: Yes, a child needs to learn that the world is not all rosy-shiny, that danger might lurk somewhere around a corner and that some people are bad news, and they precisely learn this much important lesson via fiction, so that they have the mental tools to process it when it happens in real life. If you shelter your kid from this, letting him assume he lives in a Care Bears world, he’s gonna be in for some major issues growing up. It’s your choice, but it’s his life. Think about it.

  3. Which one of you lost on the coin toss to go see this?

    • Sandy, what on earth did you say to Vic for him to force such a punishment on you? :-D

  4. It is sadly quite symptomatic of these politically correct times that they have replaced the original black-skinned evil smurfs from the comics with these bleached ersatzes.

    • Lets not forget the use of fashion sense and “styles” as a means to identify bad and good. Why is the evil female smurf depicted as an emo girl? Its ridiculous. The days in which I grew up (the Tiny Toon, Anamaniacs era), were full of smart satire and parody, which jokes that were aimed towards children and flew under their noses til they were older. Now, everything is “safe” and these films add to this very dull entertainment era for children.

      • Very well put “Chicago.” I was just watching Animaniacs last night. IMO, one of the top 5 cartoon series OF ALL TIME.

      • True. It’s even more ridiculous when you consider what emo style really is. They basically mixed punk and goth fashions and stripped them of all meaning by making innocuous radio-friendly music. The emo style has nothing evil.

  5. Opinions are like a**holes. Everyone’s got one, and they all stink.

    I can’t wait to see this movie. I love the Smurfs, and I think it’s a good time at the movies. Forget what these reviews are saying. It makes me laugh how many people bash it, and yet it still makes $500 Million at the box office. So that only leads me to believe that a critic’s opinion isn’t worth jack s**t. How can you all hate something so much, yet everybody else LOVES it?

    Also remember that critics are the people who call painting a canvas completely black, a work of art.

    • Justin Bieber = best artist ever.

      • Best wot?

  6. Go Despicable Me 2!! It’s certainly better than Monsters University!!

  7. JB Smoove? Is that a real person, or a new Ben & Jerry’s flavor?

    • Real name Jerry Brooks, most notably of Everybody Hates Chris, SNL and Curb Your Enthusiasm fame.

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