In this sequel to Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation's hybrid live action/animated family blockbuster comedy The Smurfs, the evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers that only a real Smurf can give him what he wants, and only a secret spell that Smurfette knows can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world¹s greatest sorcerer. It's up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity to return to our time, reunite with their human friends Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her! (from MovieWeb.com)
In Hollywood, you can bet average franchises are going to get unwarranted sequels. If you know anything about me, you'll know I've been a pretty substantial Garfield fan for about as long as I can remember. After the mediocre 2004 live action take on Garfield, the underwhelming production was given a 2006 sequel. While some aspects about it were improved (like no dance numbers involving a Black Eyed Peas song, for starters), it was largely a silly and unnecessary second outing. History has repeated itself for the 2013 sequel to the 2011 film, The Smurfs.
But the comparisons to Garfield don't end at unnecessary sequels and a 2-year span between them. The Garfield sequel took the gang to England, which removes all of the characters from their distinctive element and dropped them into a foreign land. This actually happened to The Smurfs when they were brought to our world from their village, but it happens yet again when the story moves them to... Paris! Why Paris, you say? The evil sorcerer Gargamel (wonderfully played to the best of his ability by character actor Hank Azaria) has been performing magic shows in France with the intent of turning the Eiffel Tower into a kind of conductor of Smurf essence -- in a plan the would ultimately lead to him ruling the world, of course. He "Smurfnaps" Smurfette from their village and it forces them to come to our world again to rescue her. They seek out Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), whom they met in the first movie, for his help, and are joined by his wife Grace, son Blue (really?) and step-dad Victor.
When you stand back and look at The Smurfs 2 as a whole, it's a bit of a mess, but there's certainly some things that can be taken away from it. In the original Smurfs tales, Smurfette was indeed forged by Gargamel as an attempt to infiltrate the Smurf Village, but Papa Smurf is able to work some magic to make her part of the Smurf family. In The Smurfs 2, the opening scene tells this tale in storybook form to set up Gargamel's plan to entice Smurfette back into his good favor. Like Smurfette, Gargamel has since created two more Smurfs of his creation (which are gray, not blue) called "The Naughties"--Hackus and Vexy--who he uses to grab Smurfette. This plot allows the theme of love and family to permeate the entire film. At the same time that Smurfette and The Naughties are learning about where they belong, Patrick is struggling with a nosy, unwelcome step-dad who raised him when his own father had walked out on his family. This theme is a bit heavy-handed, predictable and rather unnecessary for the overall film, but it drives the message of family home for young audiences--even if it's spoon-fed or forced for the adults watching.
The story and script isn't anything really special (there are way too many cheap gags), but one could do far worse with family entertainment. The Smurfs lore has always involved magic and sorcery, so some viewers are likely to be sensitive to that. However, none of it is based in anything serious, and it's really all pretty silly. Still, if the subject matter makes you uncomfortable, you'll want to steer clear of the little blue guys. Some of the Smurfs aren't the best role models either. Vanity Smurf is part of the central team this time and he's, obviously, extremely narcissistic and talks in a rather snobbish voice. Also, there's no profanity in the film but The Smurfs tend to replace any bad word with "Smurf." So sometimes they say "Holy Smurf!" Or "What the Smurf?" Or "We're Smurfed!" Also, a human is turned into a duck by Gargamel at one point and he literally exclaims "That was *quack sound*-ed up!" It's more than obvious what they were implying and it was anything but subtle. Finally, there's some violence but most of it is slapstick and silly. There are also some instances where Smurfs are trapped against their will and their lives are threatened, but none of it is lethal.
The Blu-Ray includes a 22-minute cartoon called The Legend of Smurfy Hollow, which takes place exclusively in the Smurf Village with no human characters starring in it at all. It opens in the CG animation style of the movie and then transitions into hand-drawn animation as the story is told around a campfire. It's actually a reminder of how much better The Smurfs work as an ensemble in their animated world than when they're forced to pair up with human, live action actors. I have to wonder if a fully CG animated movie would fair better than the human/animated character hybrid formula that Hollywood is obsessed with. The Smurfs 2 has its moments, but overall, it's a relatively bland film for adults and probably more suitable just for kids.
Probably the most entertaining parts of The Smurfs 2, once again, involve Gargamel and his cat Azrael. Azrael, who's voiced by voice actor veteran Frank Welker (Slimer and from The Real Ghostbusters, Megatron from Transformers and the current Garfield), adds some extra spunk to Azaria's over-the-top portrayal of Gargamel. Not all of the jokes deliver, but some of the fun Azaria is clearly having as Gargamel rubs off on the audience.
Silly, goofy, and most certainly one of the more unnecessary sequels in recent memory, The Smurfs 2 is harmless entertainment for the family to enjoy that also reminds viewers how special the bond of family is.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 12/1/13)
Along with the feature film are the following extras on the 2D Blu-Ray disc:
The Smurfs: Legend of Smurfy Hollow (22:15) is a "mini-movie" included as a bonus here. For the 2011 movie, Sony included The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, so Legend of Smurfy Hollow continues what began last time. It opens with the same animation style as the movie but transitions into hand-drawn animation as the story is being told around a campfire. In the story, while the Smurfs compete to find the most Smurfberries, Gutsy tricks Brainy out of winning by telling him to look out for the headless horseman. It's kind of cute although not all that strong of a story.
Deleted Scenes (3:52) - There are five deleted scenes totalling less than four minutes. The first one is a television interview with Gargamel where he starts a fight with the boom mic hanging above him. When he leaves the studio, he forces people to bow before him. The second is an extended Smurf rescue posse roundup which features a little more dialog, including an additional great line from Passive Aggressive Smurf, who's voiced by Jimmy Kimmel. There's then more footage of Gargamel making people bow before him. Next we see Gargamel pondering what it would mean to be kind while walking and pushing people out of his way; Lastly, we see the tourists--who originally see the rolling ferris wheel--at the end of the movie. This time, they see Gargamel on the Eiffel Tower screaming and decide that they want to leave Paris because it's "too dangerous."
Daddy's Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette (6:21) - Katy Perry and the filmmakers of The Smurfs series talk about Smurfette's origin in Peyo's world and the film series. They also delve into the evolution of Katy's voice performance of Smurfette between the two movies.
The Naughties! The Tale of Hackus and Vexy (5:42) talks about the two new Smurf characters and the process of designing them. Here we see some early concept designs and learn about their intentions for these two new characters. They then talk about voice casting them and we get to hear from the actors, Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove, as they talk about their characters and joining the Smurf franchise.
The Puurrfect Companion: Azrael's Tail (4:40) is all about Azrael the cat and Frank Welker providing the voice. We get to see some great in-studio footage of Welker recording the voice, which seems to be a pretty rare thing (but we don't get to hear directly from him talking about it). The process of bringing Azrael to life on screen was a mixture of using a real cat and CG animation.
Animating Azrael (3:24) - Here, they show in detail how they blended both the live action cat and animated cat -- and sometimes replaced him entirely with a CG cat.
Evolution of The Naughties (3:41) - This talks more about the concept of The Naughties and shows more animation tests of their characters -- from how they move to how they act.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 12/1/13)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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