Friday, November 22, 2013

The Smurfs 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! They really made another smurfing Smurfs movie?  What the smurf is up with this smurfing smurf?

The Smurfs 2 – 2 out of 5

I get it that The Smurfs was supposed to be a kid’s movie but it didn’t change the fact it was unbearable to sit through. The jokes were nothing but the Smurfs flying around and falling into bad slapstick before (and after) throwing in groan-inducing “blue” gag and replacing all swear words with “smurf” and the only non-CG characters were all trying way too hard to be funny (but were still easy to deal with than anything Nick Swardson has ever done). However, the special effects were okay. Did the film need a sequel? No way but it got one anyway. 

Why is that one wearing elbow and knee pads?

Okay, so Gargamel (Hank Azaria) has become a superstar in the world because of his magic that's powered by the essence of Smurfs. Obsessed with getting more power, Gargamel makes two evil Smurfs like he made Smurfette (before the Smurfs showed her the goodness in her) and hopes to turn them blue like Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) did with Smurfette (Katy Perry). The evil wizard uses his creations (which he calls The Naughties); Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove), to kidnap Smurfette (already feeling like she doesn’t belong due to her past), and force her to reveal the potion to turn his Naughties blue (damn, that sounded perverted). However, Papa Smurf gathers up Grouchy (George Lopez), Clumsy (Anton Yelchin), Vanity (John Oliver) and his human friends; Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), Patrick’s wife Grace (Jayma Mays) and Patrick’s stepfather Victor (Brendan Gleeson) and, together, they set out to stop Gargamel and save Smurfette.

And, from the looks of it, save her from her drinking habit.

In an attempt to make an apologist review (and because my girlfriend thinks The Smurfs movies are cute), these movies are not meant for me but, at the very least, this one is a definite improvement on the first one. The film is still kids stuff but at least it felt like they were actually trying and weren’t just passing off colorful characters that can distract little ones for an hour and a half.

"Let's smurf this bitch!"

The film is still a painful collection of unfunny jokes about being blue, putting the word “smurf” in randomly to make things sound weird (or like swears or sexual acts that are probably banned in at least a dozen states) and more ball jokes than there should be in a kids movie (seriously, this movie gave up three testicle jokes in a rapid-fire, 10 minute sequence); while all this is going on, the film still manages to make some strides by actually having some development in the characters in the story. We get to see the film pull from the source material and do a little developing of the fact that Smurfette was created by Gargamel and doesn’t feel like she belongs with the rest of the Smurfs because she, technically, isn’t a Smurf and this feeling of not having a family is mirrored with Patrick’s stepfather who is desperately trying to be a part of Patrick’s life while Pat is doing his best (and dickie-est) to push him away. Granted, you still have to suffer from some really grating gags while this is going on and having to deal with Patrick and Grace’s kid (who is, lamely, named Blue) chiming in every two seconds and stating the obvious by just saying what is occurring in front of our eyes. It got to the point that I started to wonder if the filmmakers were slyly trying to hint that Patrick and Grace were raising an autistic kid. However, even suffering through all of this, there is still a glimmer of care and emotion in the story.

I admire him for his bravery and patience...I'm talking about his character clearly
raising a kid with Autism, not the actor's decision to do another Smurfs movie.

Another improvement was, it seems, that the special effects are a little better this time—not much but the Smurfs actually felt a little more realistic this time around (not that the special effects were bad in the first one)…although, it still didn’t change that many of the human actors seem to look through them rather than at them. I will also admit that much of the voice acting work is tremendous in the film. While it’s sad that Jonathan Winters’ last film was this movie, he still is great as Papa Smurf and Anton Yelchin is decent as Clumsy. Hell, a ton of the Smurfs are voiced by talented people like Fred Amisen, Alan Cumming, B.J. Novak, Paul Ruebens and Jimmy Kimmel. Even Katy Perry is okay as Smurfette—well, better than she was in the first one; mostly because she is actually providing some acting and not here just to provide a lame “I kissed a Smurf and I liked it” joke. The Naughties are even backed up well by Christina Ricci and it all seems well in the voice acting department.

Fans of Rule 34 love this film for all the potential, horror-creating images it inspired
in them.

However, for every few talented and decent actors, you have a few that don’t really fit in or work for their role. As much as I enjoy the actor, J.B. Smoove was annoying as Hackus; of course, no one could have played that part WITHOUT being annoying because the character itself is obnoxious and the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. Also, George Lopez just doesn’t fit as Grouchy Smurf. Maybe it’s because whenever I hear his voice I have to remember all his unfunny stand up but nothing about the man’s voice screams “grouchy” to me. Yes, his voice is gruff and raspy but that doesn’t denote “grouchy” for me.

If nothing else, at least The Simpsons will go on for another 40 years, Azaria.

The live action department is much the same and maybe even a little worse. NPH does nothing of note in the film like in the previous one, Jayma Mays is just kinda there and Hank Azaria, despite his talent, is having more than his fill of the scenery as Gargamel. The only real decent performance by the live actors came from Brendan Gleeson but all his great scenes were bookend with more bad gags and chaotic acting choices from the rest of the cast.

Gleeson's appearance filled me with a desire for a 28 Days Later/The Smurfs mash up.

Like the first movie, I didn’t care for The Smurfs 2. However, this one felt like there was a little more heart to it than the last one and the story did have a little more drama to it thanks to Victor and Patrick’s relationship and Smurfette’s fear of not belonging. While I won’t say I enjoyed it, I did think it was a much needed improvement.

Typical reaction to watching a Smurfs film.

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