The Smurfs 2 (G)

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner3/08/2013

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 105 mins

Enjoyable sequel to the 2011 hit, enlivened by decent animation, strong comic performances, a terrific voice cast and a witty, nicely pitched script that ensures there is entertainment for both adults and children.

What's it all about?
Directed by Raja Gosnell (who made the previous film), The Smurfs 2 is based on the Belgian comic strip characters created by Peyo and begins with a brief recap of Smurfette's origin (in pop-up book form), revealing that she was created by the evil-but-useless wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) before Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) transformed her into a ‘true blue’ Smurf using a magic spell containing Smurf essence.

However, unbeknownst to the Smurfs, Gargamel has created two new Smurf prototypes known as Naughties and he sends one of them (Christina Ricci as Vexy) through a portal to kidnap Smurfette and bring her to his Paris base, where he intends to harness the secret of the magic spell for his own nefarious purposes.

When the Smurfs realise that Smurfette is missing, Papa Smurf forms a rescue team with Grouchy (George Lopez), Clumsy (Anton Yelchin) and Vanity (John Oliver) and they magic themselves to New York to ask their human friends Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) to help them find Gargamel.

The Good
Azaria was born to play Gargamel and he duly delivers another terrific comic performance as the hapless wizard, while Winters (who sadly died after filming was completed) is pitch-perfect as the perpetually unperturbed Papa Smurf, and Perry does an excellent job of conveying Smurfette's emotional conflict, torn between her creator, her new Naughty friends and her Smurf family. Similarly, Lopez, Yelchin and Oliver have an engaging rapport as the rescuing Smurfs and the film also receives a welcome comic boost from Brendan Gleeson (as Patrick's well-meaning stepfather Victor), particularly when he's accidentally turned into a talking duck.

Gosnell's experience with CGI/live action hybrids (e.g. Scooby Doo) makes him pretty much the perfect director for the Smurfs franchise and the blending of live action and animation is commendably seamless here, with the Paris locations used inventively throughout. Similarly, the witty script is packed full of good jokes (for both adults and children) and manages to deliver a strong message (about the importance of any kind of family) without resorting to sickly sentimentality.

The Bad
The main problem with the film is the depressing amount of completely unnecessary product placement (especially considering the age of the film's target audience) – prime offenders here include Gargamel learning how to use an iPad and the Smurfs apparently having both the internet and ‘Smurfbook’, while the aggressively pop-friendly soundtrack feels both distracting and out of place.

On top of that, J.B. Smoove's Hackus (the other Naughty) is underdeveloped and never really gels as a character, while the animation on the all-CGI cat Azrael (an admittedly remarkable achievement) is occasionally a little creepy.

Worth seeing?
The Smurfs 2 (3D) is an engaging and enjoyable sequel that should appeal to both children and dragged-along adults alike. Worth smurfing.

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Content updated: 07/12/2019 02:24

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