The Smurfs 2
– for some rude humor and action.
Director: Raja Gosnell
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria, Brendan Gleeson; voices of Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Christina Ricci, J.B. Smoove, George Lopez, John Oliver, Anton Yelchin
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: July 31, 2013
Blu-Ray Release Date: December 3, 2013 (Amazon.com)
In this sequel to Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation’s hybrid live action/animated family blockbuster comedy The Smurfs, the evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers that only a real Smurf can give him what he wants, and only a secret spell that Smurfette knows can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world¹s greatest sorcerer. It’s up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity to return to our time, reunite with their human friends Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her!
In Hollywood, you can bet average franchises are going to get unwarranted sequels. If you know anything about me, you’ll know I’ve been a pretty substantial Garfield fan for about as long as I can remember. After the mediocre 2004 live action take on Garfield, the underwhelming production was given a 2006 sequel. While some aspects about it were improved (like no dance numbers involving a Black Eyed Peas song, for starters), it was largely a silly and unnecessary second outing. History has repeated itself for the 2013 sequel to the 2011 film, The Smurfs.
But the comparisons to Garfield don’t end at unnecessary sequels and a 2-year span between them. The Garfield sequel took the gang to England, which removes all of the characters from their distinctive element and dropped them into a foreign land. This actually happened to The Smurfs when they were brought to our world from their village, but it happens yet again when the story moves them to… Paris! Why Paris, you say? The evil sorcerer Gargamel (wonderfully played to the best of his ability by character actor Hank Azaria) has been performing magic shows in France with the intent of turning the Eiffel Tower into a kind of conductor of Smurf essence — in a plan the would ultimately lead to him ruling the world, of course. He “Smurfnaps” Smurfette from their village and it forces them to come to our world again to rescue her. They seek out Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), whom they met in the first movie, for his help, and are joined by his wife Grace, son Blue (really?) and step-dad Victor.
When you stand back and look at The Smurfs 2 as a whole, it’s a bit of a mess, but there’s certainly some things that can be taken away from it. In the original Smurfs tales, Smurfette was indeed forged by Gargamel as an attempt to infiltrate the Smurf Village, but Papa Smurf is able to work some magic to make her part of the Smurf family. In The Smurfs 2, the opening scene tells this tale in storybook form to set up Gargamel’s plan to entice Smurfette back into his good favor. Like Smurfette, Gargamel has since created two more Smurfs of his creation (which are gray, not blue) called “The Naughties”–Hackus and Vexy–who he uses to grab Smurfette. This plot allows the theme of love and family to permeate the entire film. At the same time that Smurfette and The Naughties are learning about where they belong, Patrick is struggling with a nosy, unwelcome step-dad who raised him when his own father had walked out on his family. This theme is a bit heavy-handed, predictable and rather unnecessary for the overall film, but it drives the message of family home for young audiences–even if it’s spoon-fed or forced for the adults watching.
The story and script isn’t anything really special (there are way too many cheap gags), but one could do far worse with family entertainment. The Smurfs lore has always involved magic and sorcery, so some viewers are likely to be sensitive to that. However, none of it is based in anything serious, and it’s really all pretty silly. Still, if the subject matter makes you uncomfortable, you’ll want to steer clear of the little blue guys. Some of the Smurfs aren’t the best role models either. Vanity Smurf is part of the central team this time and he’s, obviously, extremely narcissistic and talks in a rather snobbish voice. Also, there’s no profanity in the film but The Smurfs tend to replace any bad word with “Smurf.” So sometimes they say “Holy Smurf!” Or “What the Smurf?” Or “We’re Smurfed!” Also, a human is turned into a duck by Gargamel at one point and he literally exclaims “That was *quack sound*-ed up!” It’s more than obvious what they were implying and it was anything but subtle. Finally, there’s some violence but most of it is slapstick and silly. There are also some instances where Smurfs are trapped against their will and their lives are threatened, but none of it is lethal.
The Blu-Ray includes a 22-minute cartoon called The Legend of Smurfy Hollow, which takes place exclusively in the Smurf Village with no human characters starring in it at all. It opens in the CG animation style of the movie and then transitions into hand-drawn animation as the story is told around a campfire. It’s actually a reminder of how much better The Smurfs work as an ensemble in their animated world than when they’re forced to pair up with human, live action actors. I have to wonder if a fully CG animated movie would fair better than the human/animated character hybrid formula that Hollywood is obsessed with. The Smurfs 2 has its moments, but overall, it’s a relatively bland film for adults and probably more suitable just for kids.
Probably the most entertaining parts of The Smurfs 2, once again, involve Gargamel and his cat Azrael. Azrael, who’s voiced by voice actor veteran Frank Welker (Slimer and from The Real Ghostbusters, Megatron from Transformers and the current Garfield), adds some extra spunk to Azaria’s over-the-top portrayal of Gargamel. Not all of the jokes deliver, but some of the fun Azaria is clearly having as Gargamel rubs off on the audience.
Silly, goofy, and most certainly one of the more unnecessary sequels in recent memory, The Smurfs 2 is harmless entertainment for the family to enjoy that also reminds viewers how special the bond of family is.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 12/1/13)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
The Smurfs 2 makes its home entertainment debut with a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack with Ultraviolet copy. You can also get a 3D Blu-Ray combo pack which also comes with the 2D Blu-Ray disc, DVD and Ultraviolet copy. And you can also get it on a single disc DVD (as well as through the usual digital providers). The Blu-Ray is mastered in 4K resolution but you don’t need a 4K TV to watch it. But it still looks better than your usual Blu-Ray disc and I can honestly tell a difference on my regular HD TV. The colors and clarity are truly amazing in The Smurfs 2. Blu-Ray is the only way to go!
Along with the feature film are the following extras on the 2D Blu-Ray disc:
The Smurfs: Legend of Smurfy Hollow (22:15) is a “mini-movie” included as a bonus here. For the 2011 movie, Sony included The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, so Legend of Smurfy Hollow continues what began last time. It opens with the same animation style as the movie but transitions into hand-drawn animation as the story is being told around a campfire. In the story, while the Smurfs compete to find the most Smurfberries, Gutsy tricks Brainy out of winning by telling him to look out for the headless horseman. It’s kind of cute although not all that strong of a story.
Deleted Scenes (3:52) – There are five deleted scenes totalling less than four minutes. The first one is a television interview with Gargamel where he starts a fight with the boom mic hanging above him. When he leaves the studio, he forces people to bow before him. The second is an extended Smurf rescue posse roundup which features a little more dialog, including an additional great line from Passive Aggressive Smurf, who’s voiced by Jimmy Kimmel. There’s then more footage of Gargamel making people bow before him. Next we see Gargamel pondering what it would mean to be kind while walking and pushing people out of his way; Lastly, we see the tourists–who originally see the rolling ferris wheel–at the end of the movie. This time, they see Gargamel on the Eiffel Tower screaming and decide that they want to leave Paris because it’s “too dangerous.”
Daddy’s Little Girl: The Journey of Smurfette (6:21) – Katy Perry and the filmmakers of The Smurfs series talk about Smurfette’s origin in Peyo’s world and the film series. They also delve into the evolution of Katy’s voice performance of Smurfette between the two movies.
The Naughties! The Tale of Hackus and Vexy (5:42) talks about the two new Smurf characters and the process of designing them. Here we see some early concept designs and learn about their intentions for these two new characters. They then talk about voice casting them and we get to hear from the actors, Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove, as they talk about their characters and joining the Smurf franchise.
The Puurrfect Companion: Azrael’s Tail (4:40) is all about Azrael the cat and Frank Welker providing the voice. We get to see some great in-studio footage of Welker recording the voice, which seems to be a pretty rare thing (but we don’t get to hear directly from him talking about it). The process of bringing Azrael to life on screen was a mixture of using a real cat and CG animation.
Animating Azrael (3:24) – Here, they show in detail how they blended both the live action cat and animated cat — and sometimes replaced him entirely with a CG cat.
Evolution of The Naughties (3:41) – This talks more about the concept of The Naughties and shows more animation tests of their characters — from how they move to how they act.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 12/1/13)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: Vanity Smurf remarks that he wish he had hair like Smurfette’s; Patrick and his wife Grace flirt with each other while speaking French. This grosses out Grouchy who tells them, “Get a shroom!”; After Victor changes back from a duck into a human, we see that he’s completely naked. There’s a blurred view of him naked from the backside as he falls with the Smurfs into a laundry truck (his bare butt is barely visible).
Vulgarity/Language: Gargamel says “Oh dear gods” once; Victor, as a duck, exclaims “That was *quack sound*-ed up” (with a duck quack sound replacing the profanity); The word “Smurf” is used as a substitute for profanity, like “Smurfin'” and “smurfed;” Victor as a duck says “What the quack is that?”
Alcohol/Drugs: None; Smurfette runs into and knocks over empty wine bottles in an alley.
Violence: Smurfette dreams she hits several of the Smurfs with a blast from her wand and it throws them into the air; Gargamel turns an audience member into a toad; Gargamel uses his wand to lift a taxi into the air. As he walks away, proud of himself, it lands on him; Azrael closes Gargamel’s head in a sunroof; Hackus catches Azrael in a net; Several Smurfs tackle another Smurf; Jokey Smurf hands Brainy an exploding card; A kid spits out a corn dog when he learns it was fried in peanut oil (which he’s allergic to); Gargamel causes a wormhole to form over Eiffel Tower. He repeatedly smacks the side of the Tower with his wand and he’s eventually knocked into a pond below; Vexy grabs and fights with Smurfette; Hackus jumps on Vexy and walks into a lamp and then the two of them crash into things off camera; Grouchy flies into Patrick’s apartment and lands in an oven mitt. The mitt pops up, scaring Victor and then Clumsy knocks over Victor and they both scream. Vanity flies into the back of Victor’s head; Vexy hits her head repeatedly on a lamp. Hackus falls over; Gargamel slams a glass vase over Smurfette; Gargamel separates a woman in a box into three segments and they float around. Her arm on the midsection piece slaps him as it floats by; Smurfette drops the vase covering her on the ground and it shatters; Clumsy trips over himself; Gargamel changes Victor into a duck; Gargamel ropes Patrick with magic and swings him around the theater. Victor, as a duck, knocks over Gargamel before Azrael, who was enlarged by Gargamel’s wand, could eat Patrick. He shoots at Patrick with blasts from his wand as he flees; Vanity faints after they fall down a flight of stairs; Smurfette runs into and knocks over empty wine bottles in an alley; Hackus spits jelly beans at people in a candy store. A baker swings a pallet at him and chases him through the store, breaking and smashing things in the process. Smurfette jumps on a jelly donut and squirts it in a guy’s face to save Hackus. They steal a cart of candy and soon crash it on the street, landing in a puddle; Gargamel throws Azrael out of a moving carriage; Azrael jumps at Hackus and Smurfette and gets his head lodged in a jar; While flying on the backs of pelicans, The Naughties and Smurfette wreak havoc on a cafe, smacking snails onto a woman’s earlobes; Clumsy accidentally hits a waiter in the head with a metal plate cover; Azrael hits his head on a bunk bed; A cart with the Smurfs on it throws them over a balcony; A pelican smashes into Azrael and a pot falls on his head; Smurfette uses the wand to zap Azrael. She then accidentally hits the Smurfs who are standing on the other side of a window; Gargamel zaps two people with his wand, throwing them to the side; Smurfette zaps a ferris wheel and it rolls off its anchor, nearly squashing some people and continues to roll through the city of Paris; The Naughties act like they’re dying because Gargamel hasn’t fed them; Gargamel cages up the blue Smurfs; We see Patrick walking with a poker in hand as he and the Smurfs go to Smurfette’s rescue; Grouchy gets shocked (but is fine); All of the Smurfs are caged and have their essence extracted from them. It’s a pretty intense moment, but relatively brief; Patrick and Victor smash the extraction machine. It explodes throwing Gargamel and big blue bursts everywhere; Gargamel points his wand at the good guys and Smurfette shoots him and he soars into the sky. His wand zaps a gargoyle dog as he’s airborne and it bites him, causing him to scream like a girl. He lands on the side of the Eiffel Tower and some of the energy from his wand sets off a lot of fireworks which throw him into the sky; The Smurfs crash land back at home; Hackus accidentally kicks Brainy; Gargamel falls into a pond near the Eiffel Tower where a wormhole has opened up and it drops him above his own cottage where he falls through the roof; In the post-credits scene, Azrael jumps on Gargamels face, smacking it as they both fall over.