Another week, another sequel. This time it's the follow-up to 2011's The Smurfs, a blend of live action and CGI which saw the little blue creatures (just what exactly are they? Pixies? Elves? Gnomes?) sucked through a weird portal to New York, where they had all sorts of adventures and got to hang out with the lovely Neil Patrick Harris.
The Smurfs 2 (and yes, it's in unnecessary 3D again) sees Smurfette, the only girl in the village, sucked through a portal to Paris. The evil wizard Gargamel (Azaria) has become a massive star doing magic shows (USING REAL MAGIC!) but he's running out of the special Smurf juice that gives him his power. So he snatches Smurfette in a bid to get her to reveal the secret formula to the Smurf essence. For, you see, Smurfette didn't start out as a Smurf. Oh no, she was actually a Naughty, created by Gargamel. And he plans to use the Smurf essence to create an army of Naughties and take over the world. Meanwhile, Papa Smurf and a few of his gang jump through a portal to New York to enlist the help of Patrick and his tribe (wife Grace, stepfather Victor and son Blue) to help rescue Smurfette.
It's an unnecessary sequel, to be sure, but an innoffensive one. Well, almost – there is a requisite fart gag. It took FIVE screenwriters to come up with the script, though, so one does wonder what they did with the rest of their time ... play basketball perhaps? The script is fairly standard for a kids' film, with a few decent puns thrown in for grownups, but it doesn't really do anything innovative or outrageous. As with the first film, the blend of live action and animation is seamless, and the human actors all seem to be having a good time – particularly the terrific Gleeson as stepdad Victor (there's a strong fatherhood theme running through the film). But once again, Azaria steals the show as the bumbling bad guy, Gargamel – he's almost a live-action cartoon character himself. Returning director Gosnell makes great use of the Paris locations, and the whole thing moves along at a decent pace. Just don't be too bothered about seeing it in 3D when your kids drag you along to the multiplex.