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A Smurfy sequel - Family-friendly offering derivative, but sweet

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A Smurfy sequel A Smurfy sequel

Sometimes, your expectations going into a movie are so incredibly low that the film almost can't help but exceed them. This isn't to say that said film is actually good; it's more that it never quite reaches the abysmal depths for which you've steeled yourself.

Enter 'The Smurfs 2.'

(Don't worry even if you haven't seen the first one, you'll be able to catch yourself up.)

This sure-to-make-bank sequel takes us once more to the magical Smurf Village. Smurfette (singer Katy Perry) is about to celebrate her first birthday, but she has doubts as to whether she truly belongs due to her origin as a creation of the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria, 'Happy Feet Too'). Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters in his final performance) tries to convince her that she is beloved in the village and she is but her fellow Smurfs do too good a job concealing their plans for her surprise party, leaving Smurfette to feel alone and unloved.

Meanwhile, Gargamel has become a worldwide sensation in our world, using the magic powers granted him by Smurf essence (yes, really) to perform what has become a wildly popular magic act. However, he's running low on Smurf juice, and so sends his newest creations Vexy (Christina Ricci, 'War Flowers') and Hackus (J.B. Smoove, 'A Haunted House') to capture Smurfette and gain access to the magical formula that turned her into a real Smurf once upon a time.

So Papa and a few other Smurfs must return to our world in an effort to rescue Smurfette. Along the way, they encounter their old ally Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris, TV's 'How I Met Your Mother') and his family. Patrick agrees to help the Smurfs stop Gargamel's evil plan before he can procure enough Smurf essence to take over the world.

It all turns out about how you'd expect.

To my mind, the bar for this movie was set extremely low like somewhere below sea level low but it's slightly better than that. Granted, you can't swing a dead cat without hitting a ridiculous sight gag or silly pun, but it's a movie clearly intended for small children; I get it. And the gratuitous overuse of the word 'Smurf' is while completely expected even more prevalent than you think it's going to be.

(That said, I freely admit to startled guffaws when a joke was made about 'Smurfholm Syndrome.' Judge me if you must, but that's gold.)

Neil Patrick Harris is blandly charming here; there's not much for him to do really, but he's the sort of guy who's going to have fun regardless of what he's doing and you can tell he enjoys the idea of making this kind of movie. You almost feel bad for Azaria the guy is legitimately going all-out for this utterly stupid role. Every goofy line, every idiotic pratfall, every absurd sight gag he is completely committed. Beneath the half-baked prosthetics and irritating voice affectation beats the heart of a true professional.

The voice talent is meh. Winters is OK, but you hate for a guy to go out with this kind of thing (but at least he isn't Raul Julia). Perry, Ricci and Smoove all have lines that they read aloud. Other notables in the voice cast include George Lopez, Fred Armisen and Jeff Foxworthy, although the only real standout is probably John Oliver, who is surprisingly delightful as the narcissistic Vanity Smurf.

Still, in the end, you're not going to 'The Smurfs 2' for high-quality writing or performance. You're going because you have a 5-year-old that you desperately wish would sit relatively quietly for 100 minutes or so. And for that purpose, the film is just fine. As for the grown-ups, well the chuckles might be few and far between, but you'll be grateful when you get them.

[2 out of 5]

Last modified on Tuesday, 13 August 2013 21:23

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