With a great look and amiable tone, The Smurfs 2 moves at the right pace and is sure to entertain its target demographic, while the Patrick and Grace Winslows in the audience might long for a little more sophistication and Hank Azaria’s oddball pop references.
The Smurfs 2, rated PG for some rude humor and action, opens today. Showtimes and Tickets:
The Good, The Bad, and The Smurfy…
Stalwart, second string family film scribe J. David Stern (Daddy Day Camp, Are We There Yet?, Clockstoppers, Jimmy Neutron, Rugrats in Paris, and outlier Shrek 2) returns for the sequel, and needs three other writers to provide palpably unsophisticated storytelling. This is mitigated somewhat considering the target audience. The lame story elements include a sitcom quality family drama amongst the humans which, while dragging down the middle of the film a bit, at least mirrors some internal Smurfs drama.
The teachable moments about family could have been better written, or might have been better left out of the film. Along with this was the shameful underuse of Neil Patrick Harris, an entertainment triple threat who spends most of his time standing around and looking pensive. Also (obligatory Smurf pun alert), there’s a smattering of blue language that feels misplaced in a film meant for small children (eg: Holy Smurf!, Son of a Smurf!, etc). Remember, the film is rated PG. Finally, the film features some ‘so last century’ black / white symbolism. The blonde haired, white hatted Smurfette is admired by all, and tempted to do evil by the black haired, grey skinned, black hatted ‘naughties.’ A more enlightened team behind the cameras would recognize that these stereotypes aren’t easily recognized by small children, they’re easily induced in them. Again, the film at least partly mitigates this with Papa Smurf’s continuous aphorisms on loyalty, character, and family.
Don’t give up just yet, there’s lots to like about The Smurfs 2 from the opening scenes to the closing credits. The Smurfs’ village is host to an unexpected collection of lesser known characters, including Narrator Smurf, who bookends the story with flair, and Jimmy Kimmel’s cameo as Passive-Aggressive Smurf, ever ready with a wisecrack. It’s also amusing that Papa Smurf’s plan to retrieve Smurfette is jeopardized when he’s forced to embark with a B-team including Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity Smurf.
The voice-work is uniformly good, with the late Jonathan Winters, George Lopez, and John Oliver due some extra credit for their superlative performances. Hank Azaria is consistently amusing, and is likely responsible for ad-libbing many of the pop references and stupid-funny plays on words, as well as a very funny first experience with modern technology. Brendan Gleeson also proves an amusing, gonzo grand-dad foil to both Patrick’s domestic and Gargamel’s magical attacks. His duck scenes are often quite funny.
CGI effects are mostly very good, and the Smurfs embed convincingly into grand set pieces in a beautifully shot Paris. Praise is due for…
Hit the jump to continue reading, and checkout the music videos…
…featuring every character, male or female, wise or… not so wise, showing ingenuity and value at some point, while different characters take the lead as the story progresses, and their allies continuously show confidence in them.
Director Raja Gosnell makes first rate use of his extensive editing experience to maintain ideal pacing, without making any scenes feel rushed or cramped. The opening sequences, in the Smurf village, are some of the most entertaining. But Gosnell deserves the most praise for the climax of the film. So often in movies, the ending falls flat after a great first act. Here, the adventure amps up, the action kicks in, and some of the funniest moments are saved for last. Gargamel’s ridiculous new wand goes haywire and takes him for a ride that tickles little kids funny-bones and atleast for a moment or two, adults too. It’s always good to end on a high note.
Stay for the end credits Gargamel scene.
I asked a mother to compare this film with The Smurfs, and she feels this one is better. She points out the original was darker and Gargamel was then a bit too scary for smaller children. If you still can’t decide, visit the interactive Smurf Happens website here, and checkout these fun and/or strange videos as well:
Here’s, “The Smurfs 2 Right Said Fred I’m Too Smurfy HD Music Video.”
(I’ll bet money your little kids like this as much as you’re disturbed by it.)
Perhaps a better argument can be made with this “Ooh La La” music video!
The Smurfs 2, rated PG for some rude humor and action, opens today.
All materials copyright Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation, 2013.