BY IRENE KARRAS
The Smurfs 2 is full of interesting animation and likeable actors, and it will amuse kids under the age of 8 for a couple of hours. But if you are a grown-up, you’ll only enjoy it if you can manage to keep your expectations fairly low.
The story picks up four years after the first Smurfs movie ended. Smurfette (Katy Perry) is having an identity crisis, as she’s self-conscious about her inauspicious beginnings as Gargomel’s creation. Meanwhile, back on earth, Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), Grace (Jayma Mays) and the now 4-year old Blue are living their New York life.
Patrick’s own identity crisis is initiated when his well-meaning, but boorish stepfather Victor crashes Blue’s birthday party. Patrick comes off as a huge jerk during the course of the film through his constant rejection of Victor’s kindness and love, which parallels Papa Smurf’s love for Smurfette. These may not be your bio-dads kids, but they’re the dads who stepped up, loved you and were there for you, so stop being such babies and embrace them already! That, in a nut shell, is the moral message in the film, and it’s a good one, but it’s lost a little among the half-hearted jokes and obvious shtick.
Though Harris and Mays are likeable actors, the real star of the show is Brendan Gleeson. He imbues Victor with genuine humanity and is the best thing about the film. Hank Azria also reprises his role as the malevolent buffoon Gargamel , who has used Smurf essence to become an internationally renowned master of illusion. He does a fine job of bringing the evil cartoon character to life, and with him, the film leaves New York for Paris, and the location shots are truly breathtaking, almost worth the price of admission alone.
Obviously, you’re not going to choose this movie for date night. It’s for parents of young kids who need to kill a couple of hours on a rainy summer afternoon. The 6 and 7 year olds I took were amused enough, but I suspect my older kids would have been bored. My guests especially loved the soundtrack, Gargamel, and some of the Smurf’s one-liners.
Overall, there are far better family films that are more entertaining for both adults and children, but The Smurfs 2 isn’t the worst of the lot either. It’s watered-down family entertainment that you’ll forget about soon after the film ends, but that won’t leave you feeling completely blue.
Irene Karras is a Calgary-based communications consultant and freelance writer with a fondness for 1950s Greek melodramas, 1980s coming of age movies, weird Canadian films, and, by necessity, PG movies. She blogs at misplacedmysassy.wordpress.com and tweets @irene_karras.