Those little blue people are back in this unfortunate sequel to a terrible children’s film. Yep, this is the type of film to make a grouch out of every poor adult – or person above the age of five – that has to sit through 105 minutes of smurf-tacularly bad filmmaking.
The villainous Gargamel (Hank Azaria) is back with a dastardly plan to turn his new creations, Naughties (pretty much Smurfs – but gray), into Smurfs. When Smurfette is kidnapped and taken to Paris, a group of Smurfs get the help of Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), his wife Grace (Jayma Mays) and his stepfather Victor (Brendan Gleeson) to get her back.
It’s actually almost impressive how many factors one movie can get wrong. Okay, this a kids film, but does that mean you have to treat the audience to such poor filmmaking and lackluster dialogue?
Where to begin. The film’s plot moves along at a fast enough pace, but the film still feels incredibly long. It all comes down to the poor construct of what is essentially one long chase. The Smurfs chase Smurfette all over Paris, always one step behind. This is all well and good, but you’ll be left wondering how you got from point A to B in such an inexplicable way. After a while every sequence is like a rehash of the one before it, placing a spotlight on the lack of imagination that has gone into the screenplay. Admittedly, these sort of spoils are easily forgiven in a film intended for children, but when you mix it up with a “message” that is hammered all the way through, then the annoyances begin to add up pretty quickly.
Hank Azaria certainly puts in his all with Gargamel. Sure, he’s evil and clearly a bad guy, but after a while Azaria’s irritatingly over-the-top antics start to grate. His interactions with Azrael, a truly embarrassing CG cat, provide some slight comic relief – till they repeat everything. You can’t help but feel for the whole cast. Harris, Mays and Gleeson are all capable of so much more, but you can’t blame them for what starts out terrible on paper.
The film is surprisingly cruel, lingering on scenes of borderline torture and pain. I may be overreacting slightly, but there’s an uneasy sense of malice that seems at odds with the overall point they seem to be getting at. I suppose this could be a good way to introduce the little ones to torture-porn.
The dizzying 3D is simply tacked on to distract the kiddies from noticing the poor storyline and the inclusion of France is simply done as a deal with the tourism board. Terrible song choices, mediocre visual effects, awful dialogue and an overly preachy message. Yes, The Smurfs 2 manages to tick off as many negative boxes as you can in a children’s film. A small child may be more forgiving and they may even enjoy themselves, but anyone else will be looking for the Smurfin’ ‘Exit’ signs.