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Watch Smurfs 2 review

Watch Smurfs 2 In this sequel to the hybrid live action/animated family blockbuster comedy The Smurfs, the evil wizard Gargamel creates a couple of mischievous Watch Smurfs 2 -like creatures called the Naughties that he hopes will let him harness the all-powerful, magical Smurf-essence. But when he discovers that only a real Watch Smurfs 2 can give him what he wants, and only a secret spell that Smurfette knows can turn the Naughties into real Watch Smurfs 2 , Gargamel kidnaps Smurfette and brings her to Paris, where he has been winning the adoration of millions as the world¹s greatest sorcerer. It's up to Papa, Clumsy, Grouchy, and Vanity to return to our world, reunite with their human friends Patrick and Grace Winslow, and rescue her! Will Smurfette, who has always felt different from the other Smurfs, find a new connection with the Naughties Vexy and Hackus or will the Smurfs convince her that their love for her is True Blue? Returning cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Jayma Mays, Sofia Vegara, Hank Azaria as Gargamel and Katy Perry as Smurfette. Brendan Gleeson joins the cast as Victor Winslow Watch Smurfs 2.

Watch Smurfs 2 A word of warning: If you can read this, "The Smurfs 2" wasn't really made for you. Anyone who would take the time to read a movie review before heading to the theater is far too discerning an audience for director Raja Gosnell's live-action/animated hybrid sequel Watch Smurfs 2 . Rather, this is a movie clearly aimed at the pre-reading set -- or at least those indiscriminate, pre-adolescent moviegoers who haven't graduated much beyond "Family Circus" and "Dennis the Menace."

Where you're concerned, Gosnell's goal is simply to try to keep you from pulling your hair out in boredom or annoyance while your children Watch Smurfs 2 squeal with the delight at the repetitive but good-natured antics of the little blue fairy-things up on the screen.

Not a high standard, to be sure. But in that regard, "The Smurfs 2" -- arriving in theaters Wednesday (July 31) instead of the traditional Watch Smurfs 2 Friday -- must be given credit for accomplishing what it sets out to do.

Like 2011's "The Smurfs" -- the forgettable but surprisingly successful big-screen adaptation of the 1980s TV cartoon,Watch Smurfs 2 in turn based on the Euro-comic by Belgian artist Peyo -- Gosnell's sequel is steeped in a slapstick-filled, Saturday-morningness. That is to say, there's nothing deep here, nothing particularly moving, nothing the slightest bit ambitious or bar-raisingWatch Smurfs 2 .

Instead, Gosnell and company closely follow the blueprint of the original, with a few token tweaks to the plot to make sure it doesn't feel too terribly much like they simply swapped out a few nouns and verbs in their Mad Libs Watch Smurfs 2-generated script. Along the way they also make sure to dial up the standard, obligatory tropes for those who want to pretend there's an emotional component. (Things like "Never give up on family," and, "It's not where you come from (that's important). It's who you choose to be.")
'The Smurfs 2' movie trailer Opens July 31, 2013

Bottom line: This is empty-calorie stuff -- cinematic cotton candy, plain and simple.

Here's the thing, though: It's the kind of cinematic cotton candy that youngsters will gobble up. Even more importantly, it's relatively quick, painless stuff when compared to so many other pint-sized Watch Smurfs 2 entertainments out there. And, for the record, that includes 2011's "The Smurfs," which, despite making $559 million in worldwide box office, was frustratingly uninspired and, at times, downright annoying.

Watch Smurfs 2 Granted, its decidedly boring and shamefully unimaginative title makes it clear that "The Smurfs 2" doesn't measure that much higher than the first "Smurfs" on the inspiration meter. It does, however, manage to go down a bit easier -- mostly because it doesn't seem to be trying quite as hard -- despite head-shaking similarities to the basic plots of the two films.

In the first one, you'll remember, Papa Smurf and friends rode a magical vortex to a live-action New York in their efforts to foil the latest dastardly Watch Smurfs 2 plan by the evil wizard Gargamel to get his hands on magic-generating "Smurf essence." This time, they use a magical vortex to travel to a live-action Paris to foil the latest dastardly plan of the evil wizard Gargamel to get his hands on Smurf essence.

In addition to offering tax breaks to movies that shoot on its scenic streets, it seems that Paris is where Gargamel is holding the newly Watch Smurfs 2napped Smurfette, who holds a vital secret that could provide him an endless supply of essence. Without it, he would be rendered magic-less -- and thus powerless -- and so he's willing to stop at nothing to get that secret. However, rescuing her is a mission fraught with peril, as it requires the tiny blue cartoon characters to avoid detection -- and a good trampling -- in our "real" world. But Smurfs, like Marines, don't leave their own behind -- so off they go to the City of Light to make things right.
'The Smurfs 2'Vexy, left, voiced by Christina Ricci, Smurfette (Katy Perry), Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and Hackus (J.B. Smoove), in an image from the animated/live-action hybrid 'The Smurfs 2.' (Sony Pictures Animation).

Cue the frantic chases, the pratfalls, the plot contrivances, the flatulence jokes and the predictably happy storybook ending. Along the way, cue also the token Eiffel Tower shots and -- as long as we're being honest here -- a peppering of harmless chuckles here and there, not to mention a pleasant sense of nicenessWatch Smurfs 2 .

Returning to the live-action cast is Neil Patrick Harris, once more playing the Watch Smurfs 2' grumpy but willing human ally, as well as an admirably game Hank Azaria, smurfing the scenery as Gargamel. Also returning is much of the voice cast, including Katy Perry as Smurfette, Anton Yelchin as Clusmy Smurf and George Lopez as Grouchy (a little blue pill if ever there was one).

Easily the most notable among the returning cast is Jonathan Winters, providing the voice of the grandfatherly Papa Watch Smurfs 2. It's a shame that Winters' last movie role before his death in April is one that takes absolutely zero advantage of his unique and legendary comic gifts. At the same time, it's nice that we get to hear him one last time. It's also nice that the film is dedicated to him, with a closing-credits in-memoriam salute reading, "Thank you for giving life to Papa Smurf and for making the world a Smurfier place."

You don't have to love "The Smurfs 2" -- in fact, you probably won't, and definitely not as much as your kids will. But it's hard to argue with that closing sentiment -- and it's also a sign that, while the film has its hiccups, the heart of "The Smurfs 2" is in the right place.


2 stars, out of 5

Snapshot: A sequel to the 2011 live action/animation hybrid, this time seeing Papa Smurf and company heading off on a rescue mission to Paris when Smurfette is kidnapped by the evil wizard Gargamel.

What works: With its good-natured, Saturday-morning vibe, it'll entertain the wee ones at which it's aimed.

What doesn't: It's all rote stuff -- nothing deep, nothing particularly moving, nothing the slightest bit ambitious or bar-raising Watch Smurfs 2.

Cast: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Brendan Gleeson, Katy Perry, Christina Ricci, Jonathan Winters, George Lopez, Anton Yelchin. Director: Raja Gosnell. Rating: PG, for some rude humor and action. Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes.

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