December 2, 2013

Blu-Ray Review: THE SMURFS 2

Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria & the voices of Katy Perry, J.B. Smoove, Jonathan Winters, Fred Armisen, Christina Ricci, Anton Yelchin, Alan Cumming, George Lopez, Jimmy Kimmel, Paul Reubens, Shaquille O’Neal, Jeff Foxworthy. Directed by Raja Gosnell. (2013, 105 min).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

I had my youngest daughter, Lucy (9), help me review this because I’ve never been what you’d call a Smurfs fan. The first film, which I still haven’t watched, looked about appealing as Cocoa Puffs & Ketchup, and this sequel (which I had no idea anyone really wanted) didn’t look any better. It still sticks in my craw that a lame 80’s Saturday morning crapfest has its own movie franchise (The Smurfs 3 is on its way), yet no one will give the Looney Tunes another shot at big screen glory.

But I know I’m not its target audience, hence my insistence that Lucy sit on the sofa to endure The Smurfs 2 along with me. As someone who isn’t familiar with the Belgian comic books or the TV show, she had no inherent bias, so who better to view it objectively? Still, she was a little reluctant because, A) she never expressed any previous interest in either Smurf movie, and B) Good Luck Charlie was on. When I told her it was either The Smurfs 2 or the Broncos vs. the Chiefs on our big screen TV (which everyone in the family fights for control of), Lucy gave in.

"I chose the blue pill."
In The Smurfs 2, Gargamel (Hank Azario) is now a famous magician in Paris, using previously-ill-gotten Smurf juice to create his illusions. But he’s running low and plans to kidnap Smurfette (Katy Perry), who knows the formula. After she’s taken, Papa and a few other Smurfs, along with human assistance from Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), wife Grace (Jayma Mays) & estranged step-dad Victor (Brendan Gleeson), set out to rescue her. A few new marketing opportunities characters are added to the mix, Vexy & Hackus, two Naughties created by Gargamel.

What follows are the good, the bad and the ugly of The Smurfs 2, as reviewed by Lucy and myself:

The Good:
  • The number of celebrities providing voices for the Smurfs is staggering. There’s a lot of fun to be had by simply trying to identify who’s who.
  • Neil Patrick Harris is a great actor, making a brave choice by playing the material with a straight face.
  • While it’ll never be mentioned in the same breath as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Smurfs 2 is better than all the Scooby-Doo movies.
  • Lucy actually enjoyed the movie immensely. She laughed a lot and had a great time (so much for passing this thing off during the annual Secret Santa party at work).
The Bad:
  • It’s kinda sad this is Jonathan Winters’ final role (voicing Papa Smurf).
  • If you hated the Smurfs in the 80s, this movie will not change your mind.
  • The attempts to make Smurfs “hip” are as clumsy and embarrassing as I suspected they’d be.
  • What’s Brendan Gleeson doing here? Does he owe back-taxes or something?
  • If you’re a parent whose kids want you to sit and watch movies with them, you’ll feel like hiding this disc in the couch cushions after only a couple of viewings.
The Ugly:
  • Despite the adequate CGI, The Smurfs are ugly, bland and boring creations. Aside from the hair (facial or otherwise), it’s impossible to differentiate one from the other.
After the movie was over, I gave Lucy control of the TV. By bizarre coincidence, she found the first Smurfs movie playing on Cartoon Network. As a born-again fan, she was ecstatic. I, however, was not among the converted. Other than those who carry a nostalgic torch for these innocuous blue critters, I’m assuming few other parents will be either.

Featurettes: Daddy’s Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette, A Puurrfect Companion: Azrael’s Tail, The Naughties! The Tale of Hackus & Vexy, Evolution of the Naughties; “Surf-O-Vision 2” App; Deleted Scenes; Mini Movie: “The Legend of Smurfy Hollow.”

(OUT OF 5)

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