THE SMURFS 2
(PG) Animation/105 minutes
Technology has allowed for more concept- driven, fantastical films to be made - be it the Toy Story trilogy or the more recent Wreck-It Ralph, both of which, among others, have become quality entertainment for children and adults alike.
However, The Smurfs 2 is an underwhelming film, especially when compared to the string of innovative and heartwarming animated films that have been released in the past few years.
It does not explore the mysticism of the blue creatures that have been a part of many a childhood, choosing to tap into only a tiny sliver of that potential.
Directed by Raja Gosnell, The Smurfs 2 begins a few years after the first film, when Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry), the only female Smurf in Smurf Village, gets kidnapped by the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria).
So it is up to Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin), Vanity Smurf (John Oliver) and Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez) to save her from the clutches of Gargamel and his evil, Smurf-like creations - Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (JB Smoove) - with the help of their human friends, Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris), his wife Grace (Jayma Mays) and stepfather Victor Doyle (Brendan Gleeson).
The plot, in essence, revolves around the idea of how family is not something one needs to be born into, and that there is goodness in all of us.
As promising as that sounds for a children's animated film, The Smurfs 2 has too many plot contrivances, such as a foolishly- gutsy Victor - having been turned into a goose by Gargamel - stopping Patrick from heading to the hotel room where Smurfette is being held, due to his confusion about hotel key cards.
While the film does have its funny moments (especially with Vanity Smurf), the formulaic screenplay, replete with cheesy dialogue that includes replacing words with "Smurf", does the film no favours. In an age where so many animated films have upped the ante, The Smurfs 2 is comparatively boring.
That said, while I felt the film was in 3-D for no reason, there were a few key scenes that made full use of the added dimension to enthral children: the scene where Smurfette, Vexy and Hackus fly around Paris on birds, and a scene involving a Ferris wheel.
However, the rest of the film is predictable. The acting does the film no favours, with Harris and Gleeson looking not all that vested in their roles.
Azaria, on the other hand, hams it up as Gargamel so much so that the character descends into caricature.
The voice actors acquit themselves well, with the late Winters acing in his role as the gentle head Smurf. Only Perry comes off as oddly robotic and overly rehearsed as Smurfette.
Boring and conventional, The Smurfs 2 feels overlong as it makes you wait for an ending you know is coming.
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