August 04, 2013

The Smurfs 2

Now, Papa

Grade: D +
Director: Rafa Gosnell
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, and the voices of Jonathan Winters, Katy Perry, Christina Ricci, John Oliver, J.B. Smoove, and George Lopez
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 1 hr. 45 min.

The fact that there are five screenwriters “credited” with inflicting The Smurfs 2 on a ticket-buying public that really oughta know better resembles a firing squad in which one or more members are issued blanks instead of live rounds. That way, each member of the group can retain the belief that they weren’t among the ones propelling actual pain toward their intended target.

Stuck in live-action Paris since the last movie, Gargamel (Hank Azaria, giving his all in service to nothingness) now stars in a magic stage show that’s made him a worldwide sensation, armed with a wand that can levitate cars, change people into toads and conjure an interdimensional vortex back to his animated home. Yet, all this somehow falls short of the world domination Gargamel seeks, so he teleports Vexy (oh Christina Ricci, where did it all go wrong?), his ashen, naughty Smurf-like creation, to kidnap a genetically needy Smurfette (whined by Katy Perry) so Gargamel can extract the formula for the Smurfs’ all-powerful “Blue Essence.” Or something like that.

Papa Smurf (the late Jonathan Winters, taking the most ignominious bow since Orson Welles voicing 1986’s animated The Transformers: The Movie) and only a handful of his blue crew give chase, find their old friend Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris), and pun-filled silliness ensues. The tedious spectacle was already teetering on the edge of inanity before Patrick calls his stepfather-turned-duck (voiced by Brendan Gleeson) “Martin Luther Wing” after the mallard frees a coop of fellow fowl.

The whole lazy, meaningless mess is Smurf-itively soul-smurfing … uh, -sucking. At least Smurfs don’t rap in The Smurfs 2 like they did in the woeful first film. But, they do manage one fart and blue bum reference. “If you weren’t in such excruciating pain, you’d think that was hysterical,” Gargamel tells some caged Smurfs after another dud pun. I coulda sworn he was breaking the fourth wall.

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