TORONTO — The original big screen adaptation of The Smurfs in 2011 raked in a whopping $564 million at the box office worldwide, so it’s no surprise a sequel is in theatres exactly two years later.
The Smurfs 2 was filmed last year — mostly in Montreal — and once again stars Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays and Hank Azaria and the voices of Katy Perry and Jonathan Winters. New to the cast are Christina Ricci (as the animated Vexy) and Brendon Gleeson.
This time around, the little blue creatures team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel to help him turn the Naughties into real Smurfs.
Is it a fun-filled adventure or will it leave you feeling blue? Here’s a look at what some critics are saying.
The Hollywood Reporter‘s Justin Lowe dismissed The Smurfs 2 as a “formulaic” and “largely unwarranted” sequel.
Peter Howell of the Toronto Star simply stated: “The Smurfs 2 has everything you hated about the first movie, and more.”
Or, as Bruce Ingram wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times, the movie “probably isn’t any worse than you might expect. On the other hand, it’s almost certainly not any better. It’s just a matter of figuring out how much punishment you’re willing to endure for the sake of the small child you’re taking to the movies. Or for the sake of diehard ’80s nostalgia.”
In the San Francisco Chronicle, Peter Hartlaub pointed out most parents will go to The Smurfs 2 with low expectations.
“You know there will probably be slapstick violence, a retread story and indignities for the human cast members,” he wrote.
But Hartlaub bemoaned the “gratuitously negative vibe” of The Smurfs 2.
“Save the $20 and just take your kid in the backyard to pull the wings off flies, or burn ants with a magnifying glass,” he said. “There’s so much torture and suffering in this movie, it starts to feel like Zero Dark Smurfy.”
Carley Tauchert of Den of Geek! also picked up on the movie’s darker tone.
“Gone were the innocent, wide-eyed creatures I remembered, and in their place were sarcastic, unfunny and dare I say mostly unlikeable little creatures that resembled the original Smurfs in appearance alone,” opined Tauchert, adding that the usually likeable Harris doesn’t come across very well.
“He’s grumpy, mean and barely redeems himself by the time the end credits roll.”
In the New York Post, reviewer Kyle Smith said Harris “mostly looks as engaged as if he’s waiting for a bus.”
Smith was almost as bored as The Smurfs 2 “stumbled from one dumb pratfall to the next.”
Also not filled with blue cheer was Claudia Puig of USA Today.
“This insipid, and sometimes awkward, blend of animation, computer generation and live action wastes a ton of talent and lacks a true sense of whimsy,” she wrote. “Feeble efforts are made to keep adult viewers entertained, but jokes and asides fall flat. And whose idea was it to milk a child’s allergic reaction to peanuts for laughs?”
Will children be reasonably entertained by The Smurfs 2?
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap said yes — but “so will a large, empty cardboard box.”
He added: “The film also has an odd way of constantly apologizing for itself, whether it’s by having characters tell bad jokes and then calling attention to the badness or via a running gag at how very annoying that Smurfs ‘la-la-la’ song is.
“Reminding the audience of how grating this material can be doesn’t make this material any less grating.”
Watch the trailer for The Smurfs 2 here: