If you’ve ever listened to a bubblegum classics CD that came free with Dolly magazine, while tossing about a handful of ripped-up blu-tac around the lounge room, all in the presence of the cat – trying to bring up last night’s hunt, you’ve as good as seen “Smurfs 2”.
I’m being Smurfy, I know. Truth is, films like “Smurfs” shouldn’t be allowed to be reviewed, because it’s almost a given the critic is going to tear the film a new Smurfhole. These part-flesh, part-toon flicks – of which “Alvin & the Chipmunks” and “Yogi Bear” also wear membership badges – are forced to use a template does them no favours, but without that injudicious paper-thin pilot, lame poop gags, and a protracted fascination with speaking animals, they’d lose their biggest audience – the 9 year-old wiggle-wert sitting atop of a popcorn-choc-top bum-bake in the first row of the cinema.
“Smurfs 2” was made – and made to suit! – for the unfussy tykes. It knows it’s only there to sporadically entertain the little ones while they screw a Boysenberry Ice-Cream into their leather seat and recite Gangnam Style in the aisle mid-show. Yes, it could strive to be more, but what’s the point? It’d lose them like an oversexed Michael Douglas does wives. No offense to “Guardians of Ga’Hoole” – may the franchise rest in peace – but kids don’t want substance with their sprinkles. There’s a reason kids like spending so much time in the sandpit – they feel at home with muck.
So how do we do this? Do we look at “Smurfs 2” as a film – on its own merits – or do we judge it as if it a pair of underwear holding the kids in place for an-hour-and-a-half?
In both respects, it does its job; there shouldn’t be too many rushing for the illuminated backdoor – kids hanging under arms – with the blinking ‘E’ on it.
As a movie? Yeah…It has enough in it to keep the kids entertained – what with its ‘laughing’ computer-generated cat, cutesy blue men group, and wall-to-wall pop songs (most of which sound like something S Club 7 regurgitated on their way into an auto tune conference) – but it’s also a few holes short of some of the more tolerable, craftier live-action/CGI family films we’ve seen. Guess it just comes down to taste? One man’s picnic-flogging Yogi being another’s Smurf-in-a-corn-dog outfit, and all. Still, It all comes from the same place at the end of the day – the sewers of a mac image-generation programme. Like agents in the Matrix, there’s not a lot of difference between them.
Director Raja Gosnell could’ve spent 10 more minutes readying this thing though. It was seemingly penned on a bit of napkin on the way to the studio on day one of the shoot. Poppa Smurf take’s longer dumps than this thing would’ve required in a pre-production period. The story is lazy, unimaginative and rather ‘blah’, to be quite honest, with only the very little likely to be engaged by its nonsensical plot and rather misguided drive. The first “Smurfs” wasn’t a miracle move, but it was a lot more Smurfingly handled than this rushed cash-grab.
There’s bigger ‘shrooms in Smurf village than there are plot points here. Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and wicked cat sidekick Azrael, now living in Paris (where the duo are performing in a magic show), dream of a world populated by evil Smurfs – ones that they can create themselves, if they get hold of Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry). One wormhole leads to another and before she knows it, the blonde squirt is in the clutches of the dastardly magic-man and his pet… as well as two homemade Smurfs (that seem torn between doing the wrong and doing the right). In order to rescue Smurfette, Poppa Smurf (voiced by the late Jonathan Winters) rounds up a small team of aqua-toned critters who are dispatched to New York to recruit a couple of old human friends into joining them on a rescue mission to the city of lights.
The human actors – Neil Patrick Harris, Brendon Gleeson (yes, my mind also let out a loud ‘What the Smurf, dude!?”), Hank Azaria, and Jayma Mays – all look like they’re having fun, which is likely because they are (you know what they say in Hollywood? Making blue movies are a lot funner than being forced to dry-hump your way through something mainstream). Still, gotta feel for them, especially in-demand jokester Harris (rather solid on TVs “How I Met Your Mother”), who is forced to work with some of the most insane dialogue and character motivation since, well, Emanuel Lewis was on primetime. But, again, NPH and company have likely paid handsomely for their participation in the toy commercial. Let’s not feel too sorry for the thesps. Yeah, Smurf ’em.
At 105 minutes, it won’t be too hard on you or your little one’s Smurf, and with not a lot of other options out there currently for those hungry to see a feline jump at a flying blue sprog’, “Smurfs 2” shouldn’t totally dismissed – especially if the other option your kid is giving you is being buried at your neck in sand on regatta day.