La la la, la la la la, sing a happy song. It’s the famous line that makes some happy and others cringe in pain at the annoying melody that has played for years. Why is it relevant? The answer is my review is on the latest modernized version of the little blue sprites, The Smurfs 2. We all know critics destroyed the last installment, but I found the kids film to be fun, peppy, and one that just makes you happy. Thus when a second installment was announced a while ago, I didn’t expect a masterpiece, but hopefully something along the lines of the first film. Robbie K is here to give you his thoughts on Sony’s latest project, so if you’re interested read on to see if this film is worth your time.
In Smurfs 2, the plot focuses on the sole female smurf Smurfette (Katy Perry) who is starting to doubt her place among her fellow blue kind. Her contemplation of self-worth makes her the perfect target for the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria) who once again desires Smurf essence to fuel his elaborate magical schemes. Thus, after a quick visit from her sister and leading Naughty Vexy (Christina Ricci), Smurfette is brought back to the real world and a rescue operation lea by Papa (Jonathan Winters) begins.
The plot doesn’t sound too deep, but for little kids its more than enough to promise the kooky action and laughs that seem to mesmerize the younger population. Smurfs 2 does deliver on this promise, filling the nearly two hours with juvenile pranks, over the top injuries, and goofy faces that filled the theater with high pitched giggles. This reviewer once again feels that your kids, nephews, nieces, or little cousins will find this to be one of the best movies of the summers with the zany, and cute things they do. As for parents though, well it all depends on how young at heart you are. Those that still have the ability to tap into their inner child are going to enjoy it more than those who can’t, as they will enjoy some of the jokes and stunts they pulled. Most older audience members I think will find it cute, but how far does cuteness really go in the movie world without something else to support it? In my experience, the answer is not much. Yet amidst all the youthful energy and humor there are a few quips embedded in the dialog that might make you laugh. A few uses of the word Smurf got me to laugh, due to a combination of timing and voice work, and a couple of other references are cleverly made in this movie. Aside from that, there isn’t much more that will capture the older audiences attention, in the form of humor.
Instead those that are looking for good animation and appreciate well-edited scenes will enjoy this aspect of the movie. Technology’s improvement has once again allowed Sony to bring the two dimensional cartoons to life. The Smurfs movements are smooth and flowing, mimicking the actions of the humans who help them in their adventure. Yet what’s more impressive for me was how in sync the mouth work was with the voices, as the animators once again kept the two in line with one another. The team also did a nice job designing the characters faces to mimic the emotion they represented, i.e. grumpy having a smirk on his face, or vanity’s primped and polished face. Of course when other emotions creep into the woodwork, such as sadness or happiness, these qualities fade away into a carbon copy of big eyes and thin-lipped smiles. Regardless the Smurfs have been integrated into the live shots well, a combination of fantastic editing and rehearsed acting motions. Whether it be running through the forest of human legs, flying digitally made birds, or navigating the torrential sewers, the animating team has worked magic again.
Past that though what else does this movie have to offer. Voice acting wise the team does a nice job with Winters still bringing that wise and caring voice to the elder Smurf. Perry’s voice plays well for the damsel Smurfette, though her character is a bit whineier and to some more annoying to the crew. George Lopez doing the voice of Grouchy is mot likely what got the angry Smurf a leading role in this movie, and his rough and gruff voice not only matches the emotion but provides some extra laughs as well. Past the voice work the live acting is a bit cheesy and silly, the live actors taking a major back seat to the fictional characters. Azaria plays the maniacal wizard well, and does a good job imitating the evil voice the cartoon made famous. Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and former Mad Eye Moody Brendan Gleeson however have taken a hit on their roles. Yes they still act well, but their characters have less complexity and more silliness then anything else. Yes two of them have issues, which are addressed in a cheesy 90’s sitcom style, but there is little complexity to their characters. The same goes for the story of Smurfette; the solution to her problem again preached to us, most likely so little kids can get something out of. Yet the biggest positive is the catch soundtrack, full of high-energy pop music that had my toes tapping.
Smurfs 2 is not as well done as the first movie, but little kids will still enjoy the comedy it has to offer. Music, animation, and voice work are the best qualities of these films for me, but there are a lot of gaps in the other areas that might make it hard for adults to swallow. If you are looking for a family friendly film, this one is your mark, otherwise skip it and wait for Netflix. My scores are:
Movie Overall: 4.5-5.0