“Smurfs 2” joins many other live action/animation mixes as an average outing for the smaller fry. Little kids likely will get a kick out of it, but older kids may want a little something more … such as the superior “Turbo,” for example.
The Smurfs, you may recall, are little blue creatures who use a special portal to enter our world. Neil Patrick Harris is back as Pat Winslow, who made the Smurfs' acquaintance in the first movie.
This time around, much of the action takes place in Paris, where Gargamel (Hank Azaria), the wicked wizard/nemesis of the Smurfs, has become a sensation with his magic show. Gargamel, who created Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry), has engineered Naughties, two Smurf-like beings called Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove).
The Naughties’ mission is to steal from Papa Smurf (the late Jonathan Winters) a formula that can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs. That way, Gargamel can create as many Smurfs as he wants, thereby taking their powerful essence from them.
Smurfette is unhappy that everyone has forgotten her birthday. What she doesn’t realize is that all of Smurfdom is involved in preparations for her surprise party. When Smurfette wanders forlornly into the woods, Vexy appears and soon engineers Smurfette’s kidnapping.
A team of Smurfs, including Papa Smurf, Clumsy (Anton Yelchin), Vanity (John Oliver) and Grouchy (George Lopez), travels through the portal to find and retrieve Smurfette.
Brendan Gleeson is on hand to play Pat’s annoying stepfather, who seems bent on ruining practically every situation in which he becomes involved. Of course, he joins the search for Smurfette, too.
Some of the jokes fall flat and some are simply irritating. In the first movie, the late artist Pierre Culliford, known as Peyo, was at least given a nod. Back in the 1950s, he was the creator of the Smurfs comic strip, beloved for its gentle characters who became a favorite of American audiences in animated form during the 1980s.
The idea of families being formed by affection, and not necessarily based on blood ties, is praiseworthy. But I don’t think Peyo would appreciate the brief, needless body-function humor that his characters are subjected to. Does it really take five screenwriters to come up with coarse flatulence jokes?
Little kids will giggle at the carryings-on that can be viewed just as well in 2-D as 3-D. There can be little doubt that we’ll see Gargamel and his long-suffering cat Azrael, along with the wee blue creatures, in a third installment. The Smurfs remain a franchise.