Movie Review: "The Smurfs 2"
Length: 105 minutes
Release Date: July 31, 2013
Directed by: Raja Gosnell
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Family
Stars: 3.5 out of 5
"The Smurfs 2" picks up where the 2011 hit "The Smurfs" left off, only this time the little blue creatures have left New York City for Paris. Sony Pictures was hoping to capitalize on the success of the first movie, which grossed more than $560 million globally. The sequel has retained many of the same characters and brought in some new faces and voices as well.
The movie starts with Smurfette (voice by Katy Perry) regretting her betrayal of the other Smurfs by turning them over to the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria). She notices her fellow Smurfs aren't talking to her much, and she takes that as a sign that they are no longer friends with her. Unbeknownst to her, they are simply planning a surprise birthday party for her.
Meanwhile, Gargamel has become a star over in Paris where he amazes and entertains people with his sorcery. Unfortunately, he is running low on the Smurf essence that keeps his magic going, and he needs to find more very quickly. He plots to create a portal so he can gain access to the Smurf Village, kidnap Smurfette, and get his hands on the formula for creating more Smurfs from Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters).
Papa Smurf hears of the abduction and gets to work immediately. He creates crystals that allow a group of Smurfs to travel to New York City to enlist Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) to help them get Smurfette back. Although Brainy (Fred Armison), Hefty (Gary Basaraba), and Gutsy (Alan Cumming) were slated to make the trip, Vanity (John Oliver), Grouchy (George Lopez), and Clumsy (Anton Yelchin) get their hands on them instead.
The three make the trip to New York City with Papa Smurf, and they arrive in time to meet Patrick's stepfather Victor Doyle (Brendan Gleeson). They learn that Gargamel is in Paris, so the group heads off to find him.
Upon arrival in Paris, Victor, Patrick, and Patrick's wife Grace (Jayma Mays) work together to distract Gargamel during one of his magic shows while the Smurfs try to find Smurfette. Unbeknownst to them, Smurfette has already escaped and been recaptured by the Naughties, Gargamel's new creations. Smurfette's emotions kick in when she realizes the Naughties are dying from a lack of Smurf essence, and she quickly writes down the formula and gives it to Gargamel.
A battle of wits between Gargamel, the Winslows, and the Smurfs soon ensues, with good finally triumphing over evil. The Naughties become real Smurfs and had back to the Smurf Village with Papa Smurf and the rest of the group, while the Winslows head back to New York City.
Raja Gosnell was the obvious choice to direct the film, as he was the genius behind "The Smurfs," as well as other light comedies such as "Beverly Hills Chihuahua," "Yours, Mine and Ours," "Big Momma's House," "Home Alone 3" and "Scooby-Doo." Gosnell worked with a small group of writers to complete the film, including David Ronn, Jay Scherick, David Weiss, and J. David Stem.
In addition to the actual Smurf characters, Neil Patrick Harris and Hank Azaria are the undisputable stars. Both of them reprised the roles they played in the original film with great success. Neil Patrick Harris, who became a household name after his portrayal of a young doctor in the television series "Doogie Howser, M.D.," which ran from 1989 to 1993, may have seemed like an odd choice, but his deadpan humor and classic good looks played off of the Smurf characters well. Harris was no newcomer to animated films or family movies, as he had played roles or provided voices for hits such as "The Penguins of Madagascar," "A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas," and "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore."
Hank Azaria, who has a very successful acting career, was an even less obvious choice, as he is a relative newcomer to family films. His previous acting experience included roles in "Friends" and "Mad About You," as well as parts in movies such as "Along Came Polly," "Year One," and "Lovelace." He does have experience in the animated film industry, having lent his voice to characters such as Moe Szyslak and Chief Wiggum in "Family Guy" and the Mighty Sven in "Happy Feet Two."
"The Smurfs 2" suffered two losses. Sofia Vergara, who played the role of Odile Anjelou in the prequel, was cut from the film. She was a favorite in the "The Smurfs," but the sequel's director had difficulty fitting in her cameo appearance, and the role was cut for clarity. Jonathan Winters, a beloved actor who took on the voice of Papa Smurf, died shortly after production on the movie wrapped.