Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Review: "The Smurfs 2"
If you suffered through "The Smurfs," an un-entertaining combination of live action actors paired with CG-spawned little blue guys, then the sequel won't hold any surprises. There's lots of goofy slapstick, some kid-friendly gastrointestinal jokes, talking critters and a few sugary life lesson moments.
Hank Azaria, playing the evil wizard Gargamel, is once again the best thing about the movie, supplying a gleefully over-the-top performance that's more cartoonish than the smurfs themselves. Gargamel wants to extract the "smurf essence" from their bodies to fuel his plans to dominate the real world after being zapped there from the smurf universe in the last flick.
The joke is that since his banishment, Gargamel has become a world-famous magician, whose shows of fantastical illusions -- turning audience members into toads and whatnot -- are of course powered by real magic. Part of the fun is that he employs the same sneering, bow-before-me behavior, but audiences lap it up as part of his act.
The main plot is driven by Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry), the only female, being smurfnapped by Gargamel, who actually created her before wise old Papa Smurf turned her good and blue. Now Gargamel wants Papa Smurf's magic formula.
Smurfette finds herself questioning her past, and chumming up with Vexy and Hackus, two of the gray-hued "Naughties" that the sorcerer has created as follow-ups to her. Vexy (Christina Ricci) is smart and tricky, while Hackus (J.B. Smoove) is brawny and doltish.
Papa Smurf (the late, great Jonathan Winters) intends to rescue Smurfette with his A-team of smurfs in tow, but through a typical smurf-up he ends up bringing Clumsy, Grouchy and Vanity (Anton Yelchin, George Lopez and John Oliver, respectively) instead. Predictable hijinks ensue.
Supplying the totally unnecessary human counterparts are Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson. Friends of the smurfs from the last movie, they have to go through some paces about accepting others, choosing to be yourself, etc. Frankly, every minute with non-Gargamel people onscreen is deathly boring, though Gleeson getting turned into a duck has its moments.
It's pretty obvious that "The Smurfs 2" is intended for really small children and not grown-ups, which is why I brought my almost-3-year-old along for his take. This is someone who was delighted by the lackluster "The Croods" and "Despicable Me 2." I got a giggle or two out of him, but that's it.
If you won't believe a film critic, take it from a critic's kid: this one's a smurfing waste of time.