Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No pleasant Smurf-prises in this awful pile of Smurf

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Get yourself into a Smurfy frame of mind, hum a few notes of The Smurf Song and try to remember your cartoon-watching primary school years. Cross your fingers that actors Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson will find something funny to do.

Never mind. Filled with Smurf wholesomeness, Smurf puns and posi-Smurf messages about never giving up on family," The Smurfs 2 still sucks Smurfberries.

Gargamel the Smurf-hater is now a big-shot magician, filling venues around the world. But the wizard (Hank Azaria, who never lets us see the boredom) is running out of Smurf Essence for his shows. As he preps for his Paris Opera House debut, he conjures up a couple of Naughties (voiced by Christina Ricci and J.B. Smoove), who Smurf-nap Smurfette (Katy Perry) from Smurf Village. She knows Papa Smurf's magic formula and a little enhanced interrogation by Gargamel and his digital cat (the movie's best effect) and it'll be Smurf-a-geddon.

Oh, the Smurf-anity!

Unless Papa (the late Jonathan Winters) and his motley B-team (voiced by George Lopez, Anton Yelchin and John Oliver) can stop them, with the help of their human friends, Patrick and Grace (Harris, Mays) and Patrick's clumsy, pushy stepdad (Gleeson).

There are five credited writers in this retread, and the best line sounds as if it was improvised by Lopez, as Grouchy Smurf: "Every time a Smurf toots, somebody smiles."

The puns are feebler ("I was Meryl Smurfing Streep in there!"), the animation passable, the special effects quite good and the 3D utterly pointless. But if your tiny-tyke target audience has to see something, at least it's harmless.

And if Harris isn't getting better offers in between sitcom seasons and Tony Awards shows, and he's got to perform blue material to get by, he could do worse.

-- McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 31, 2013 C7

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