The Smurfs 2 (2013) sees those little blue gnomes back and proving more mischievous than ever in the new sequel to the hit cartoon / live action family adventure The Smurfs (2011).
Happily recovered from their previous adventures, the Smurfs have returned to their own land where the boys are now preparing a surprise party to celebrate the birthday of their beloved Smurfette (Katy Perry). Believing that her friends have forgotten her big day Smurfette wanders off only to be captured by two Naughties, sent by the Smurfs’ arch enemy Gargamel to bring Smurfette back to Earth, where he plans to use her as bate to lure the rest of the Smurfs into a trap for use in his dastardly plans for world domination.
First of all for anyone who dismisses this wacky combination of live action and animation straight off, as another blatant opportunistic attempt to cash in the success of a (in some opinions) classic vintage children’s cartoon, they’re really missing a trick. Some television cartoons are very much of their time – a case in point being Scooby Doo whose spaced out psychedelia has never translated well from the 1970’s period during which it first appeared. The Smurfs on-the-other-hand, originally created in 1958 by the Belgian comics artist Peyo, have a universal appeal and timelessness which allows them to come alive for successive generations of children (and adults) to enjoy. Which is what you will do, whether young or old, if you simply switch off and take this new film as it’s clearly intended – a bit of harmless and quickly forgettable fun.
The human characters, most of whom return from the first film, are typical for this kind of fodder – ranging from inconsequential as in the case of Grace (Jayma Mays) to the downright irritating Gargamel (Hank Azaria). Even the characters of Patrick and Victor (though played slickly by Neil Patrick Harris and Brendan Gleeson respectively) give the impression of being there in order to give the real stars of the show (the Smurfs) something to play off.
Which is, I guess, as it should be. From the authoritative Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) and delectable Smurfette (given life by Perry), to the boys in blue who seem to take their inspiration from the Seven Dwarfs, these little guys are so cute that you’ll likely want to take one home yourself. However they pale beside their little grey counterparts, the Naughties, Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove), created by the evil Gargamel in order to capture our heroes. Appearing like Smurfs on acid, this duo are wicked fun, producing some of the film’s most memorable scenes – particularly the one set in a Parisian cake shop, or where they decide to take a giant ferris wheel for a spin through the centre of the city of lights. Add to this the said backdrop of Paris which makes the French capital appear like a pristine fairytale principality, and Azrael, Gargamel’s ginger moggy who takes every opportunity to show his master up as the bumbling incompetent that he truly is, and the result is the kind of film which kids will lap up whilst their parents will secretly enjoy as well – though they’d never admit it publicly.
Whether or not you like this gang of loveable rogues (and it seems that enough people do, as a third film in the series is already planned), there is no denying that their latest antics will help pass an afternoon for the kids if this steamy summer weather starts getting them hot under the collar.