Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Smurfs 2 (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about "The Smurfs 2" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



 It’s possible the kids in your life might like Smurfs 2, and you, well, you might not hate it.
“Smurfs 2” is the sequel to 2011’s undeserving hit “The Smurfs” and once again follows the little blue ones taking a trip into our world, this time to rescue Smurfette who has been kidnapped.. sorry... smurfnapped by Gargamel so he can find out how to make his own Smurfs and drain them of their magic for his own hit magic show. Papa Smurf and three others team up once again with Neil Patrick Harris to bring her home.
Now it’s no secret that I hated the first Smurfs, and that’s probably putting it kindly, so I certainly didn’t go into this one expecting to come out with anything positive to say. But guess what? I don’t remember wanting to stab my eyes with a fork even once! Is it good? Not by a long shot, but I actually think I can find some good things to say about it. First, Hank Azaria is really fun as gargamel. He plays the part with such conviction that he almost makes you buy into this crazy world. And though I didn’t really think much of anything was genuinely funny in the movie, the jokes they went with seemed a lot less infantile this time around. But the best thing about the movie for me was the performance of the late Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf. There is such a caring and compassion in his tone and it fits perfect for a movie about unconditional love. That theme, by the way, is another highlight of the movie, as it is nicely (if not a bit ham handedly) worked into the two major storylines.
Alright, enough good stuff, lets hit the negatives before you start to think I actually enjoyed this movie, cause I didn’t. I managed to withstand it. In many ways watching a movie like this feels like surviving a hurricane. You know what’s coming so you block up the windows, leave town for a few days, and hope to come out of it with everything intact. The truth is, everything about the movie feels cookie cutter and basic. There is nothing about it that feels clever or compelling. It’s an hour and a half of meh. Even the usually amazing Neil Patrick Harris feels a little forced. But the worst thing is the smurfs themselves. besides the aforementioned papa smurf, none of these smurfs seem to have any story momentum or purpose. I guess you could say Smurfette is facing a journey but the character is played with so little variance that you have no doubt exactly how things will shake down in the end. I guess I’m under the impression that Smurfs are supposed to be cute and funny, but all I keep seeing is annoying and precocious. Also, can I just say that animals that are CGed to talk freak me out. Gargamel’s cat Azreal might have had some really funny moments, but I wouldn’t know, I was too busy trying to claw my way out of the uncanny valley.
Overall, Smurfs 2 is itself like an 80s cartoon. Low quality, painless filler, that kids might get a kick out of. If you go into it with super low expectations and accept that its not for you, you might come out the other side not hating yourself for having to sit through it. I’d like to give it a Smurf minus but that’s not a real thing, so let’s just go with a C.
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