Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Smurfs 2

Year 8, Day 225 - 8/12/16 - Movie #2,420

BEFORE: Lord help me, but this is the film that connects my chain to "Star Trek Beyond" - how I wish that it weren't.  But it's on the list, don't ask me why, so the best thing to do is to buckle down and pour some Diet Mountain Dew and try to get through it.  Then it will be off the list and gone.  

Frank Welker carries over again from "The Trouble With Spies", tonight providing the voice for Azrael, which is Gargamel's cat.  Coincidentally, that's also the name of a character in the Batman comics, and a different character on the Batman-themed Fox show "Gotham", which only started appearing under that name in an episode I watched about a week ago.  

FOLLOW-UP TO: "The Smurfs" (Movie #1,328)

THE PLOT: The Smurfs team up with their human friends to rescue Smurfette, who has been kidnapped by Gargamel since she knows a secret spell that can turn the evil sorcerer's newest creation - creatures called the Naughties - into real Smurfs.

AFTER: This film's plot (and I use the term very loosely) throws us right into the middle of things - we find out that Gargamel is stuck in the modern human world, but he's doing quite well, as a master illusionist.  The reason is, he's not performing illusions, he's really turning people into giant toads and such on stage, with the help of Smurf magic.  But the magic is running out, and his attempts to make his own Smurfs have only resulted in the creation of pseudo-Smurfs called Naughties, which don't power his wand because they're not blue.  (Hey, man, whatever gets your wand working...)

So he opens a portal with the aid of the Eiffel Tower (shades of "Tomorrowland" plot point there) and sends the Naughties to SmurfVille to capture Smurfette, his last creation.  If he can get the formula for whatever turned her blue, he can recreate that with the Naughties, and then drain their Smurfy essence, which is probably as disgusting as it sounds. 

Papa Smurf gathers a team to teleport to the human world and get Smurfette back, but instead of Hefty Smurf, Gutsy Smurf and Brainy Smurf, a mix-up causes him to use the B-team, which is Grouchy Smurf, Clumsy Smurf and Vanity Smurf.  Oh, if only this ragtag team of screw-ups could overcome their negative personality traits in order to band together and save the entire village!  But, hey, you do what you can.  This really should have been the main message of the film, that even the lesser Smurfs can pitch in and do their parts for the greater good of the community, even though they've got character flaws.  Instead we're given a hit-you-over-the-head point about how step-parents are just as good as biological ones, and the fact that Smurf racism is acceptable (see below).  

NITPICK POINT #1: When the Smurfs appear in the NYC apartment of their human friends from the first film, they surprise Master Winslow's step-father - but he accepts the Smurfs in about a second and a half.  It's really a lot to take in, first that little blue creatures exist, that they can talk, and that they come from another dimension that needs saving.  Upon learning all this, most people wouldn't stop screaming for about an hour, or knowing New Yorkers, they'd probably chase the Smurfs around the apartment trying to kill them, assuming that they were some new form of vermin.

NITPICK POINT #2: When the humans find out where Gargamel is, they all fly from New York to Paris, like that's just a thing.  Sure, drop everything going on in your life to go rescue a little blue Smurf, don't bother calling your job to say you won't be coming in for a while, or explain your son's absence to his school.  And who can't afford 4 tickets to France bought at the last minute, assuming they're even available?  My boss is in France right now, and I arranged the tickets months ago, and for two people and a kid, round trip, two different itineraries on three different airlines, seats together when possible, it took me days to find tickets at a reasonable price.  And still it was nearly three large.  

NITPICK POINT #3: Time and again, this film sends out the wrong message - in an age where we should be teaching our kids to appreciate people of all skin colors, this film keeps telling the Naughties that they've got to be blue, they don't fit in unless they're blue, they're not "true" Smurfs unless they're blue.  That's some real smurfy "Master Race" eugenics stuff there - what if they had said that you're not a real person unless you're white, that the other colored people are somehow impure?  That wouldn't fly these days, right?  So why do we allow Smurfs to practice their blue racism?  

Also starring Neil Patrick Harris (last heard in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2"), Hank Azaria (last seen in "Cradle Will Rock"), Brendan Gleeson (last seen in "Edge of Tomorrow"), Jayma Mays (last seen in "Red Eye"), Jacob Tremblay, with the voices of Katy Perry (last heard in "The Smurfs"),  Jonathan Winters (ditto), Christina Ricci (last seen in "Black Snake Moan"), George Lopez (last heard in "Rio 2"), Anton Yelchin (last heard in "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"), John Oliver (also last heard in "The Smurfs"), J.B. Smoove (last seen in "The Dictator"), Fred Armisen (ditto), Jeff Foxworthy, Alan Cumming (last seen in "Emma"), Gary Basaraba, Adam Wylie, and vocal cameos from Kenan Thompson (last seen in "Snakes on a Plane"), B.J. Novak, Shaquille O'Neal, Paul Reubens (last seen in "Cheech & Chong's Next Movie"), Jimmy Kimmel, Shaun White, Mario Lopez (last seen in "Pitch Perfect 2"), Tom Kane.

RATING: 2 out of 10 corn dogs

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