In the realm of the children’s stories put on film, no matter what our age we all have our personal favorites that we hold near and dear to our heart. Some work, delighting new generations and others just don’t translate nearly as well. “The Smurfs 2” falls in the latter category and while it admittedly had a couple of moments that made the little ones smile, the film seemingly didn’t know which direction it wanted to go and was a little over plotted, even making a few of the kids wonder why they were bringing their parents to this in the first place.
The Smurfs team up with their human friends (Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson) to rescue Smurfette (Katy Perry), who has been kidnapped by Gargamel (Hank Azaria) since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer’s newest creation; the Naughties, into real Smurfs.
Filled with blunt kid friendly jokes and heavy handed messages, it is near impossible to actually review “The Smurfs 2” since I only know people who live with little people who are the target audience of this film. At 105 minutes and more writing credits then I care to count, “The Smurfs 2” unfolds well enough much like your standard kidnap and chase, good guys and bad guys tale, however it is missing quite a bit. For starters, the film feels incredibly lackluster just like a loosely thrown together collection of set pieces that got framed into a narrative. The dialogue was a little TOO kid friendly at times, since it was borderline clunky and that actors barely had any genuine material to dig into as the message of the importance and the value of family was hitting the audience over the head at every turn. It had some fun sight gags and entertaining action sequences but the 5+ and under puns will even make an 8 year old roll their eyes while the themes of family and its importance just might fly over a lot of young kids heads.
It’s tough to judge as a film of acting performances as this loaded ensemble either had nothing to do, couldn’t really act or was simply trolling it and hamming it up at every occasion. To his credit, Hank Azaria can do over the top in his sleep and his Gargamel worked well enough, but Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays we’re just too vanilla and Brendan Gleeson bless his heart worked for his paycheck as the eccentric step father. The late great Jonathan Winters is actually quite solid, but it doesn’t seem right that his last on screen credit was a kids film and it should have probably been something a little more “adult”. George Lopez, Anton Yelchin and John Oliver slid besides Papa Smurf on this adventure as Grumpy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf and Vanity Smurf but only Oliver’s voice work actually got to shine. Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove got to join the cast as the Naughties, Vexy and Hackus and got the odd moment to shine, however it all goes back to the material in the script that really doesn’t go anywhere, while there are a plethora of guest Smurf voices, the only fun any adults may have is trying to put the voice to the Smurf.
At the end of the day, “The Smurfs 2” will only generate some mild amusement in the very young in the family, because if you’ve hit the age of 10 you run the risk of getting a little bored as it just skews far too young to be a hot ticket for all audiences.
1 out of 5 stars.
“The Smurfs 2” is open tomorrow in theatres all across the country, check with your local listings for show times.
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