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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday, April 24, 2014 - Edition No 894 

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SMURFS 2, THE

SYNOPSIS:
The evil wizard Gargamel (voice of Hank Azaria) creates a couple of mischievous Smurf-like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers only a real Smurf can give him what he wants and only a secret spell that Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry) knows can turn the Naughties into real Smurfs, Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world's greatest sorcerer. It's up to Papa (voice of Jonathan Winters), Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchin), Grouchy (voice of George Lopez) and Vanity (voice of John Oliver) to return to our world, reunite with their human friends Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays) and rescue her. Will Smurfette, who has always felt different from the other Smurfs, find a new connection with the Naughties Vexy (voice of Christina Ricci) and Hackus (voice of J. B. Smoove) - or will the Smurfs convince her that their love for her is True Blue?

Review by Louise Keller:
While the 2011 Smurfs movie set in New York was filled with blue-tinged charm and cute-dom, the follow-up in Paris lacks the sweet innocence from the last time around, resulting in a yarn that is overblown and a bit of a yawn. The filmmakers and the formula are the same - a magic portal transports the Smurfs from their enchanted mushroom homes - but while the Smurfs seem able to find their way, the same cannot be said for the filmmakers.

Once again it's a mix of animation and live-action with an emphasis on geeing up the CGI often to the detriment of the unfortunate marmalade tabby cat Azrael. It might amuse youngsters momentarily, but the overdone, repetitive nature of the cat gross-outs quickly wear out their welcome. With themes that champion who you choose to be and not where you come from, the plot revolves around the blue magical Smurf essence that Hank Azaria's buck-tooth, evil magician Gargamel needs to power up his army of minutiae Naughties. The objective? To take over the world, of course.

The idea of Gargamel setting up his dastardly schemes in the bowels of the Paris Opera is rather fun - notionally a bit like the Phantom of the Opera. Paris may never seem the same again with blue lightning strikes eliciting from the spire of the Eiffel Tower by a gigantic wand called La Wanda and the overplayed boo-hiss villain Gargamel commuting between the grand Paris Opera and the elegant sophistication of the Plaza Athenee.

The biggest surprise is Brendan Gleeson's Victor, stepdad to Neil Patrick Harris' Patrick, who spends much of the film as a duck. Yes, Gargamel turns him into a duck that talks and quacks. There are lines like 'Victor, you look fowl'; 'don't make me pluck you' and the Smurf's Lala song gets a good workout. Meanwhile, Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) and three of his little Smurfs spend most of the film trying to find the kidnapped Smurfette's (Katy Perry), who is struggling through an identity crisis. Best to catch the 2011 film on DVD.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

SMURFS 2, THE (G)
(US, 2013)

CAST: Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Jayma Mays, Hank Azaria

VOICES: Katy Perry, Christina Ricci, JB Smoove, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin, John Oliver

DIRECTOR: Raja Gosnell

SCRIPT: J. David Stem, David N. Weiss, Jay Scherick, David Ronn, Karey Kirkpatrick

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Phil Meheux

EDITOR: Sabrina Plisco

MUSIC: Heitor Pereira

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Bill Boes

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 12, 2013







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