You ever wonder what it would look like if a bunch of Smurfs visited our world (again) whilst, instead of being blue, they bore a remarkable resemblance to something some Gothic wannabe-artist on Deviantart would draw of the Smurfs to provide their totally-not-laughable take on what a set of famous characters should look like? If you answered yes: reconsider, seriously.
What I have described is characters that appear in The Smurfs 2, and that makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Of course we need a bunch of Smurfs that look like terrible Internet fan art to get modern audiences to watch kid’s movies these days! Because it’s not the fault of Hollywood or bad parenting that kids are drawn to idiotic garbage like this, right? That’s just how kids are and therefore we should make our films accordingly, right? Well, no. We shouldn’t. But alas, Raja Gosnell and I are in bit of a disagreement on that point.
So, The Smurfs 2. Sequel to The Smurfs. What’s it all about? Well, we got Hank Azaria returning as Gargamel, still trapped in the human world after the events of the first film. He seems to have made a name for himself in France by using his powers to dazzle millions during live magic shows. You’d think something like that would be enough to make him feel powerful, right? Well, no; he still has that darn obsession with those pesky Smurfs and stealing their magical essence. He aims to do so by bringing back his own creation, Smurfette (Katy Perry), to the dark side to do his evil bidding and steal the essence. This sounds so stupid and unnecessary that even his annoying CGI cat questions it. The portal into the Smurf World, however, is too small for Gargamel to enter, so for the job of recapturing Smurfette he hires his two latest creations, Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove): a pair of emo-looking, evil Smurfs known simply as “Naughties”. I wonder how many kindergarteners the writers had to consult before they finally settled with that.
Meanwhile, in the Smurf World, Smurfette is sad because no one seemingly remembers her birthday, even though the others are only trying to disguise their surprise party, which leads her to believe that she truly does not belong there. Naww. Shortly after this bit of moping, the Naughties kidnap her and bring her to Gargamel. On their tail, however, the villains soon have a rescue team made up of Papa Smurf (the late Jonathan Winters in his final film role, poor man), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin), Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez) and Vanity Smurf (John Oliver), who travel to our world via convenient plot device.
Here begins their mission to rescue Smurfette and foil Gargamel once more, but first they must reunite with Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) from the first film, his wife Grace (Jayma Mays), and his son, who, of course, is named Blue. No, that is not a joke. I am not joking. You know why I’m not joking? Because I would never be under the misconception that anyone would ever find that funny.
There’s also a subplot going on regarding Patrick Winslow’s relationship with his stepfather, a corndog tycoon (yes, seriously) played by Brendan Gleeson, who, amongst other trivial things, didn’t let Patrick keep his real father’s pet parrot whilst they were living together. Turns out that the reason for this is that Patrick was allergic to birds the whole time, and (I swear to all that is holy that I’m not kidding when I say this) the way Patrick figures out that he has a bird allergy is when now, several decades later, his stepfather gets turned into a mallard by Gargamel and lets Patrick smell the few feathers that remained on his hand after he gets turned back to normal. With this in mind, wouldn’t you say that this is the kind of movie where it’s perfectly reasonable to demand a refund even if you didn’t even pay to watch it?
This is worse than the first Smurfs film. Much worse. Whereas the first one at least felt in some aspects like it was trying to be a nice film for kids, this one hurts to just think about. Each over-the-top bit of slapstick comedy and painfully unfunny modern humour is punctuated with Smurf-related puns that are too asinine to aptly describe without failing to do their lameness justice. Words and phrases uttered in this film include ‘Smurfey’s Law’, ‘Smurf-tastrophe’, ‘Smurfholm Syndrome’ and ‘Smurf-exactly’. Take as long as you need to figure out how that last one even works as a pun in the first place.
As with the last film, the only thing that’s genuinely fun about the movie is Hank Azaria’s Gargamel, because once again, it is he who fully understands what a ridiculous concept this is and for a second time he provides a hammy performance that will surely keep you from getting bored, at least. He knows how stupid this is and he has so much fun in the process that you sort of ought to respect him for it. And for what it’s worth, at least they let him stay in character as a hammy, evil wizard that sounds like Willem Dafoe in Shadow of The Vampire without trying to water him down by putting him in modern outfits or giving him a love interest in the form of a generically attractive Hollywood actress. Phew.
The film also comes close to working when it actually makes an attempt to be a wholesome family film, which makes me loathe the rest of the film even more. Why couldn’t we just have had a whimsical little children’s film set entirely in Smurf Village with a new, updated 3D look? Why do we need to modernize it and throw in desperately unfunny smurf-puns intercut with lame toilet humour? Why do we need to insult the intelligence of children by making movies for them which, I think evidence indicates, will only harm their intelligence further? Smart and enjoyable movies like Wreck-It Ralph and Despicable Me 2 made big money too and they didn’t need to be brainless schlock for that to happen. Let’s have more of that, please! Let’s have anything that isn’t Raja Gosnell. Come on!
The Smurfs 2 is a film where people look at a ferris wheel rolling through Paris like it’s all good fun, idiotic puns seemingly make up most of the dialogue and the most likable character is an annoying CGI cat. I think I’ve said enough.