The CGI-meets-reality sequel is a bald retread of the original, starring Katy Perry and Hank Azaria
Raja Gosnell has built up an unenviable reputation as a director for bringing technically complex live-action/CGI hybrids into being, with two movies bringing Hanna Barbera’s Scooby Doo to life, and now back to back features featuring The Smurfs. The original outing for the jolly blue-skinned mites was derided by adults, but children flocked to it, and Gosnell has struck to a near identical format for this sequel, other than re-locating the action from New York to Paris.
Smurf-hating wizard Gargamel (played once again without a shred of dignity by a shamelessly mugging Hank Azaria) has been playing around with portals leading from the real world to the merry enclave of the Smurfs, and manages to kidnap a real prize in the form of the coy Smurfette (Katy Perry). Papa Smurf (the late Jonathan Winters) leads a task force of three smurfs into our dimension on a rescue mission, aided by put-upon dad Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), whose personal conflict with his step-father Victor (Brendan Gleeson) is exposed by the stresses of a trip to France to raid Gargamels’ underground lair.
Aside from a toned-down finale that thankfully doesn’t attempt to re-create the exhausting multiple climaxes of the original’s Central Park finale, The Smurfs 2 is as bald a retread as the unimaginative title might suggest. As with the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise, any frisson about the potential clash between the cartoon and the real world is confined to the original film; in The Smurfs 2, the characters set about learning life-lessons without much enthusiasm, presumably reflecting the performers lack of interest in the material besides banking a presumably healthy pay-cheque.
General release from Fri 31 Jul.