It pains me to report that this sequel to 2011’s The Smurfs isn’t quite as insufferable as its predecessor. Last time around, the blue ones stumbled into New York City to wreak havoc upon the life of Neil Patrick Harris (as the air-guitar playing “Patrick”), and the contrast between NPH and his torturers was supposed to be enough to support a full-length film, but of course the gag wore thin as NPH struggled to maintain his dignity. In the second film, there’s an actual tale to be had here. A terrible tale, mind you, but there’s a least a little bit of effort at work here in the script other than simply tossing in three-apple-high CGI creatures with a bunch of pantomiming, live-action humans. Don’t get me wrong though — The Smurfs 2 is still an insipid movie. The tale, such as it is, isn’t very coherent, but there’s some actual conflict involved beyond NPH going to battle with Sofia Vergara’s cleavage to keep his job.
In this movie, the filmmakers give a cursory glimpse into the history of Smurfette (Katy Perry), which isn’t exactly a secret to childhood Smurfwatchers (or Smurfophiles, whatever you want to call them). You see, Smurfette is experiencing a bit of an identity crisis — even though franchises usually save this stuff for the third movie, but clearly, Smurfette is no superhero, so who cares? Plus, the makers of the Smurfs movie aren’t into deep philosophical crises. They’re just mining the old stories in an effort to keep kids’ butts planted firmly in their seats while the parents check out and surreptitiously check their text messages. Yes, I am all for proper phone etiquette in theaters, but I would never get onto anyone for texting during Smurfs 2, which is a miserable experience for anyone over the age of seven years.
At any rate, Smurfette finds herself quite troubled by her real origins at the hand of bumbling wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria), who created her as a Naughty in his attempt to infiltrate the group of all-male Smurfs with which he is psychotically obsessed. As such Smurfette does not consider herself True Blue even though Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters, RIP) managed to turn her into an actual Smurf. It’s so dumb, but (in the interest of slapstick humor by the filmmakers) Gargamel remains preoccupied with the Smurf essence because he thinks it will help him eventually rule the world (not exactly Loki, is he?). Thusly, Gargamel hatches a nefarious plan to kidnap Smurfette and use her essence to color a few more of his Naughties, Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove). Even though Smurfette is eventually saved (of course), all of the melee messes with her frail psyche, and she doesn’t know where she eventually belongs. You’d feel bad for her, but the movie is such a rampant, free-wheeling mess that there’s no time to dwell upon feelings for Smurfs. Hopefully, they’ll at least bring Sassette on board for the next (inevitable) film to keep Smurfette company. Oh, did I mention that this movie takes place largely in Paris? Pretty.
On the live-action front, Neil Patrick Harris has finally given up, y’all. He clearly does not give a shit in this film, and at first, I was slightly disappointed that he couldn’t bother to muster up enough energy to do anything else here besides pick up his paycheck. I mean, the dude is already in this stupid movie, so he should at least do some acting, right? However, it’s mildly amusing to see an actor who is blithely attempting to undo all of the goodwill that he has built throughout his career. This guy is tied into his role with a contract, and it’s a beautiful thing to see someone like NPH (who is practically an angel in human terms) metaphorically tell Hollywood to shove it. Granted, if he was a female actor, people would probably call him ungrateful and never watch his movies or television appearances ever again. Still, I have to admit (as an audience member) enjoying his little act of rebellion. In comparison, Hank Azaria has clearly lost his mind and throws so much energy into his performance that he certainly must feel that Gargamel is the role of a lifetime. Sad.
Agent Bedhead lives in Tulsa. She & her little black heart can be found at Celebitchy.