Smurfette is feeling a little … downcast.
It's her birthday—a hard day for her, given that she was "born" from a hunk of clay and fashioned by Gargamel, the Smurfs' snaggletoothed, wardrobe-impaired nemesis. The nefarious wizard—perhaps under the influence of sexist television comedies from the 1960s—must've believed that a girl Smurf would bring about the end of all Smurfdom. (Insert evil laughter here.) And, while Smurfette switched sides faster than a WWE wrestler, her birthday is still a reminder of her less-than-blue beginnings. So she's always a little concerned that her more Gargamellian tendencies might suddenly leap out and reveal themselves. Perhaps in the form of severe male-pattern baldness.
No wonder she feels … dejected.
It doesn't help matters that it would seem her fellow Smurfs have all forgotten their birthday. Had they been humans, this oversight would've made perfect sense, given that all the other Smurf are guys who (according to sexist television comedies from the 1980s) are genetically incapable of remembering important dates. But these are Smurfs, remember—so imbued with kindness and courtesy that the iPhone's Siri asks them for help.
Now, these guys are actually plotting a surprise birthday party for Smurfette, complete with a huge cake and oodles of gifts. And even though Smurfs all attend the Edward Snowden school of secret-keeping, they've somehow managed to convince poor little Smurfette that they've all forgotten about her.
So, feeling quite … lugubrious … Smurfette wanders out of Smurf Village and to a little pool of water, where she can feel sorry for herself.
But suddenly, out of the— well, maybe I should say out of nowhere, a portal opens up and this strange, diminutive, gray girl appears and yanks Smurfette through the portal and down into what we might call the real world. A world in which Gargamel himself is a famous entertainer.
Now Smurfette is really … bummed. Will Papa Smurf save her? Or will he forget about doing that, too?
Family values are truly front and center here. Families should be valued, we're told. And that value very much includes blended families and adopted kids.
See, Smurfette is, in essence, an adopted child—and her "biological" dad is kind of a pill. But Papa Smurf tells her that her origin isn't important. "It doesn't matter where you come from," he says. "It only matters what you choose to be." Smurfette's family—her real one—is right there in Smurf Village.
When Smurfette is Smurfnapped and taken back to Gargamel's lair, she forgets Papa's lessons. She makes new friends (Vexy, the gray-skinned girl, and another rambunctious Smurf-like creature named Hackus) and is temporarily swayed by a deceptively kind Gargamel—who, incidentally, doesn't forget her birthday. Can you keep a secret? Well, the bad dude's angling for Smurfette to tell him a secret formula that has the power to destroy all of Smurfdom. And Papa Smurf worries that Smurfette, in her hurting condition, might just do so. But his humanoid pal Patrick tells Papa he should keep his faith in her. "Gargamel, he just made her," he says. "But you, you made her what she is." Papa realizes he's right.
"We didn't believe in her because she changed," he says. "She changed because we believed in her."
Patrick, meanwhile, is having familial fissures of his own. But unconditional love wins the day. And in the process we learn a pretty good lesson about how his goofy stepfather, Vincent, actually tried really hard to do right by him for all those years, even though Patrick thought differently. Vincent always loved Patrick, even when Patrick didn't love him back.
"Whatever you do," Vincent tells him now that he's grown, "don't tell that beautiful son of yours that love is conditional, because it is not."
[Spoiler Warning] Smurfette does eventually give Gargamel the formula, but only to save her new friends whom she considers family. And when all the cutesy kinks in the plot have been worked out and Gargamel's been defeated once again, Papa Smurf tells Smurfette that her decision was the right one. "Life is the most precious thing to protect," he tells her. "I'm very proud of you."
Smurf-related magic includes Papa reciting the spell that turns Smurfette into a blue-blooded Smurf. And Gargamel's constantly using Smurf "essence" to wreak all manner of sorcery—from lifting taxis high overhead to transforming Vincent into a duck to turning Azrael (a traditional name of an angel, often the angel of death) into quite a large kitty cat. Indeed, Gargamel's sinister plot is hinged on creating little beings (like Vexy and Hackus) from clay (an echo of the Jewish legends of the golem), turning them into Smurfs and then squeezing them dry of all their magical essence. Smurfette refers to the formula for creating Smurfs as a "sacred" secret.
Smurfette and Vexy are both comely looking Smurfs, apparently, and both attract some interest from their blue brethren. Vanity Smurf, meanwhile, admires himself quite a lot—imagining that his glutes look particularly attractive as he's climbing up a rope. Patrick asks his wife whether his French is "sexy." They flirt with each other for a bit until a Smurf tells them to "get a shroom."
Vincent, when he shape-shifts from a duck back into his human self, does so sans clothes. We see a blur of him falling into a tub of sheets, and a Smurf who digs his way out from under both Vincent and the sheets squawks, "I saw unspeakable things down there."
Smurfs movies can feel, at times, like feature-length Looney Tunes—so filled are they with insane levels of slapstick violence. Gargamel, who we can only assume is as indestructible as the Wolverine by this point, bears the brunt of most of it. He tumbles down the side of the Eiffel Tower (smacking the metal with his head and body), has his neck repeatedly smashed, is crushed by a falling taxicab ("Are you dead?" Azrael asks in his yowling cat language) and is blown sky-high by a bevy of fireworks.
Other characters are punched, pulled, tripped and bashed in the head. Hackus creates a violent diversion with candy. Smurfette sets a giant Ferris wheel loose on the city of Paris, nearly crushing a handful of passersby (who seem kinda thrilled by the whole thing). Gargamel magically carves up a volunteer as part of his stage show—and is slapped by one of the volunteer's hands. He turns people into animals. The gigantic Azrael-cat tries to eat both Smurfs and humans.
Crude or Profane Language
Once again the word Smurf is used as a stand-in for profanity. "Oh my smurf" is the most common exclamation, and we also hear the likes of "holy smurf," "we're smurfed," "are you smurfing kidding?" "I really smurfed myself," "Meryl smurfing Streep" and "son of a smurf." Smurfs say they've injured their "smurfberries." Gargamel says "gargaberries." And a word that sounds sort of like cluck gets some of that same treatment too.
God's name is exclaimed inappropriately once. Name-calling includes "moron," "dim-witted toad" and "imbeciles."
Drug and Alcohol Content
Wine is part and parcel with the backdrop of Paris ... and sometimes even underfoot as Smurfette stumbles over a bottle at one point.
Other Negative Elements
A Smurf passes gas in the water. Others make crude noises with their mouths. A couple of humans goof around by spitting at each other. Someone accidentally gives a boy a corn dog he's allergic to. (Giggles are the result.) Gargamel lies—frequently. Vanity admires himself—some more. Grumpy Smurf gets grumpy. Smurfette behaves in ways unbecoming to a Smurf.
The Smurfs 2 is a very sweet, very silly movie—and just self-aware enough (and culturally snide enough) to create a few problems.
It didn't feel quite as crass as the original Smurfs movie—but perhaps only because its penchant for using Smurf in place of profanity is, by now, expected. That's a shame, of course, especially given how innocent the original cartoon was. And these little blue guys can be crude now, too, behaving in a manner unbecoming to creator Peyo's original vision.
But if crude behavior cheerfully accumulated on top of nice messages in the first movie, the opposite feels true in the second. The Smurfs 2 piles up nice messages on top of some crude behavior, offering strong and, at times, surprisingly moving ruminations on the meaning of family. It tells us that Smurfs love one another unconditionally—and that we should too.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Comedy, Animation, Kids
Hank Azaria as Gargamel; Neil Patrick Harris as Patrick; Brendan Gleeson as Victor; Jayma Mays as Grace; Jacob Tremblay as Blue; voices of Katy Perry as Smurfette; Christina Ricci as Vexy; Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf; J.B. Smoove as Hackus; George Lopez as Grouchy Smurf; Anton Yelchin as Clumsy Smurf; John Oliver as Vanity Smurf; Frank Welker as Azrael
Raja Gosnell (The Smurfs, Beverly Hills Chihuahua; Yours, Mine & Ours; Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Scooby-Doo; Big Momma's House)
July 31, 2013
Paul Asay Paul Asay