Vanity (voiced by John Oliver, left), Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) and Grouchy (George Lopez) will have you singing the blues.
SMURFS 2 (Raja Gosnell). 105 minutes. Now playing. For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
Smurfs 2 doesn't have to reach very high to meet our low expectations, but even then the strained, witless movie about thumb-sized, magical blue creatures proves to have a short grasp.
The inherent problem with the Smurfs (based on the nauseating 80s cartoon and the Belgian comics before it) is that they are nothing but wholesome values (read: dull) packed into gummy-bear-sized figures. That's probably why this mixed animated/live-action movie would rather tap into the origin story of Smurfette (Katy Perry).
She's the creation of the evil wizard Gargamel (a cartoonish Hank Azaria), who was made honest by Papa Smurf (Jonathan Winters) and is now being held captive and plied to return to the dark side. Smurfette may be the most complicated among her species (she is the only female, after all), but that just means she has two dimensions instead of one, which is still not enough to elevate all the 3D mediocrity on display.
Her daddy issues are mirrored by returning human character Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris), who mounts a rescue mission alongside Papa Smurf that is continually frustrated by his step dad (a most welcome Brendan Gleeson).
There's a lovely message about appreciating the changing face of family. I won't hold it against the movie for overselling the point, since it doesn't have much else to offer.