The Smurfs 2, Review

This sickening baby food of a film will have even its target audience seeing through its BS.

Let’s not confuse baby formula for actual food.The Smurfs 2 is a feature length kiddie live-action cartoon meant to provide brain idling for spawn who do not yet conjure full observations. While it isn’t primarily made for me and my astonishing ability to go on the Internet without asking my parents first, the game of making feature length animation is not just a kid sport, especially when numerous directors have tuned into the brains of young viewers before without committing brain cell-killing carnage. Perhaps someone should tell that to the five grown men who wrote The Smurfs 2, who can’t even collectively BS their way through baby talk, much less a surprising fart joke. One, or all of them however, did write a joke in which a Smurf expresses discomfort after seeing Brendan Gleeson’s naked penis, so kudos to them. Similar to how Toy Story 2 introduced audiences to the origin story of cowboy Woody, The Smurfs 2 informs its viewers through an impressively animated pop-up book about the true tale of redemption for single blue female Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry); she used to be one of evil wizard Gargamel’s gray-colored Naughties, but she earned her brighter skin color and blonde hair when taken in by new step daddy Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters). When Smurfette is then kidnapped by Gargamel and his Naughties, a group of Smurfs, including John Oliver’s Vanity Smurf and JB Smoove’s Hackus Smurf, venture back into the real world (through a water portal, not coincidentally used by the Kaiju in Pacific Rim) and enlist the help of New York humans Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), his wife Grace (Jayma Mays), their young son Blue (Jacob Tremblay) and Patrick’s distant stepfather Victor (a daffy Brendan Gleeson). This second Smurfs movie further owns up to the metaphor of baby food by shoveling much of the same, hardly amusing gags into the audience’s face from the first serving. For parents who had to see the first one and now are considering suffering through round two, I can only imagine that repeated jokes like calling Papa Smurf “Santa,” or having someone ask, “Is a Smurf’s butt blue?” to be the equivalent of abusive taunting. As Gargamel, an apparent closet cinephile as indicated by the first film, previously made a reference in his dialogue to Brokeback Mountain, this time he returns with direct pop culture adlibs to movies like The Empire Strikes Back and Scarface. With sequences and exact story moments copied and pasted by the aforementioned adults (a new writer was added for this grueling venture) from their previous script, what’s the biggest difference? Gargamel’s cat, Azrael, has even longer chunks of dialogue, despite still speaking a subtitled form of meow-gibberish.  Aside from its cribbing, perhaps the franchise’s most wasteful attribute is its voice casting. The Smurfs 2 utilizes a whole list of star personalities for brief Smurf spots that are barely clarified even when reading the final credits (which kids don’t even stay for anyway). Is a cameo really a cameo if it’s impossible to recognize the briefly appearing talent in the first place? Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Reubens are among many notable names who appear uselessly.

Oddly enough, the picture might be as lazy with almost every component, but its voice talent doesn’t take the job lightly. Numerous actors try to pepper up their appearances by heightening the quality of their regular voices, something Ryan Reynolds didn’t even do when he was playing lead snail in this past month’s Turbo. Perry’s Smurfette sounds like a chew toy exhaling and JB Smoove puts more effort than most recent voice actors have, by throwing in a burly Groundskeeper Willie impression (or Craig Ferguson impression) with his Hackus Smurf.

 As it moves through mirroring tales of step daddy drama, The Smurfs 2 shows no charge with any sense of heart, despite dealing with a domestic situation uncommon in animated films, but worth the discussion for younger viewers. These moments feel like pithy shoo-in segments, similar to that dumb joke in which Jayma Mays dresses up like Audrey Hepburn or when Harris calls Vincent “Martin Luther Wing” after his stepfather is turned into a duck (which is arguably the movie’s best and worst joke considering its lack of control on taste).  Through their baby talk and popcorn dumping, perhaps the movie’s most intended critics did indeed speak out at the single Sunday morning screening I found myself in. With their laughter only reaching minimal surges at best throughout the movie, the most inspired guffaw came from a joke involving Gargamel screaming with the high pitch of a little girl having her voice put on fast forward. And for some reason, Oliver’s Vanity Smurf had the most consistent amount of larger laughs, winning the howling affection of his young audience every time he decided to eye-fuck himself in a reflection. But lest ye think this movie played out perfectly with a crowd that has more expectations on concessions than actual feature films, one must address the cries of mutiny that literally rang from all corners of the auditorium once the film reached the 70-minute mark. With Harris and Papa Smurf sharing yet another bonding conversation recognizing their important positions as fathers (indeed copied from the first movie), the future Roger Eberts of my crowd aired their angst in whines, whimpers, and wallows as if each cry were in a choral round. While Smurfs 2 may think it is providing something indirectly great for its older audience members by attempting to occupy the little ones for two hours, even the smallest brains in the auditorium are in tune with what The Smurfs 2 can’t BS. As a film franchise based on a community of mostly male blue Communists that live in a rarely seen mushroom town, The Smurfs have not been able to transition to the big screen with a genuine bone in its small, money-making body. A huge and irritating yawn of an animated movie, this first sequel in this franchise once again flaunts the gluttonous laziness that drives the entire series’ motivation to simply throw us into a candy store, and then set money on fire. Den of Geek Rating: 1 out of 5 stars


1 out of 5