When Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and his Naughties kidnap Smurfette (Katy Perry), Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) rounds up a team of Smurfs to travel to the human world and seeks out Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and his family to help them thwart Gargamel’s evil plan.
First things first, you should know that The Smurfs took more money ($564 million) than Monsters Inc. I am going to let that one sink in for a moment; not because a Smurfs movie is not a good idea – the Smurfs are a huge part of many peoples’ childhoods – but because it currently has a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. I have to admit, I have not seen it.
As for The Smurfs 2… We know going in that this is not a film that is going to challenge or enhance our lives in any way, and it is a good job. The humans do fairly well; Brendan Gleeson is easily the most enjoyable character, as Patrick’s father Victor, and that is only because he obviously put his ego aside and dived into the role. Harris does OK as Patrick, but he is not particularly well rounded, the same goes for Jayma Mays as Grace… Am I a fool, looking for delineation in a Smurfs film? Hank Azaria camps it up and chews every available piece of scenery as Gargamel, but he is sort of fun, in an over the top way.
The animated characters are voiced by some great actors (and people!) including Jonathan Winters, Christina Ricci, JB Smoove, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin, John Oliver and BJ Novak, but the characters communicate in cliché or faux pop culture reference, and far too many Smurf word replacements for them to be anything other than annoying, and perhaps a way to teach kids to swear. That said, the most annoying character in the film has to be Gargamel’s cat Azrael, who is badly animated, badly realised and as irritating as the horse who thought he was a dog in Tangled.
Moving on; the animation and combination with live action sequences in the film works incredibly well, and it fairly seamless (apart from the afore mentioned cat). The film has Paris as a backdrop and there are some fantastic aerial sequences that look incredibly good on screen. As usual, the 3D is pointless.
Director Raja Gosnell has never managed to recreate the not quite, but almost greatness of Never Been Kissed, and he ramps up the saccharine sweetness of this film, making each of the characters slightly weakened by the love they feel for one another, and contradicting a line from the film itself.
In all, The Smurfs 2 is a film made for 3 – 6 year olds. If you are not 3 – 6 years old, then there is very little for you here. The kids, however, will love it. Slapstick and naughtiness are the name of the game in this overly sweet, yet somehow bland kiddie film.