A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Smurfs 2 (sequel to 2011's The Smurfs) is packed with pratfalls and comic violence, but no one is ever seriously hurt, and the moments of peril won't feel very scary, even to most young kids. There's lots of mischief, and Gargamel is a big comic meanie, as usual, though his treatment of his child-like creations the Naughties feels pretty cruel at times. Expect some inherent sexism in the damsel-in-distress storyline and some brief ogling of Smurfette and Vexy, especially when Vexy sings a slightly suggestive song ("Ooh La La") at the end of the movie. And, of course, no Smurf movie would be complete without fake swearing using the word "smurf" in the place of stronger words ("holy smurf," "son of a smurf," etc.), plus some jokes about farts and someone being injured in the "smurfberries."
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What's the story?
In THE SMURFS 2, it's Smurfette's (voiced by Katy Perry) birthday, and the Smurfs are planning a giant surprise party for her. But when the little blue creatures ignore her in an attempt to throw her off of their plans, she starts to think they don't care about her. Her memories of being created by the evil Gargamel (Hank Azaria) make her question whether she belongs in Smurf Village at all. Meanwhile, Gargamel, who has become an international sensation performing his magic to packed theaters, is concocting a plan to capture Smurfette and get her to reveal the formula that Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) used to turn her into a real blue Smurf. He plans to use this formula to turn his latest Smurf-like creations -- the naughty Vexy (Christina Ricci) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove) -- into more real Smurfs so that he can extract their "essence," which he'll use to power his magic and, of course, take over the world.
Is it any good?
This sequel, directed by Raja Gosnell (who directed the first Smurfs movie), somehow misses even the easiest targets for humor. While the previous film wasn't the most creative or charming in the kids' movie genre, it at least had some silly laughs, a couple of great human characters (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays), and a lighthearted tone that made for an easy 90 minutes. The laughs here are hard to come by, no matter how many times Clumsy Smurf drops something or Vanity Smurf looks at himself in the mirror. After a while, the jokes feel worn out. And Azaria's Gargamel seems much meaner this go-round, as he nearly starves his progeny to death or throws his cat Azrael out of a moving vehicle.
Harris and Mays hardly get any screen time, and their cute 5-year-old boy, Blue (Jacob Tremblay), is unfortunately a poor actor. And scenes that seem like they might turn out funny -- like when Vexy cons Smurfette into saving Hackus from a French candy store -- go so quickly that they lose any potential impact. Along with the cliched damsel-in-distress storyline, these flaws make Smurfs 2 a fairly innocuous but overall disappointing movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about The Smurfs 2's message about family. What kinds of families are presented in this movie? How has the definition of family changed over the years? Do you think it will continue to change?
Why do you think Smurfette is the one who needs rescuing? Would the movie have worked as well if it was a different Smurf who needed help? Can you think of any other movies where the female character is rescued by male characters? What message does that kind of plot send about male and female relationships and abilities?
Did any of the violence seem scary to you? Did you ever think Gargamel would succeed with his plan?
- In theaters: July 31, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: December 3, 2013
- Cast: Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, Katy Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
- Director: Raja Gosnell
- Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some rude humor and action
- Last updated: November 25, 2019
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