EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 2, 2013

Les Smurfs take Paris


3 stars

The little blue brigade is back, and this time some Naughties are out to foil their Nice.

After a successful big-screen outing set in New York in 2011, the Smurfs, those tiny mushroom-dwellers based on a Belgian comic, return to spray their magic blue sparkles around Paris, in an effort to save Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry), once again in peril.

This time, her real father, the evil magician Gargamel, has created two “Naughties,” Smurf-size but ominously gray-hued, to lure Smurfette back into the fold — Goth-girl Vexy (voiced by Christina Ricci) and her idiot brother Hackus. As Patrick and Grace, the human allies who helped out the Smurfs the first time around, Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays are also back, cheerfully plotting and donning disguises in the name of Smurf safety.

Hank Azaria once again proves that there can’t be a more fun villain to play than Gargamel, or a better man for the job. As the malevolent magician bent on destroying the Smurfs and their peaceful, joyous way of life, he’s pure, bumbling badness with buck teeth.

The sequel’s other high point is the addition of Brendan Gleeson as Victor, Patrick’s brash stepfather who also winds up vying with Papa Smurf (voiced by Jonathan Winters) for the position of moral compass. Papa’s presence, reassuring as ever, is extra poignant because this turned out to be the late Winters’ last film.

Many of the jokes are designed to keep parents smiling — an amorous Patrick and Grace are urged to “Get a shroom!” A stressed-out Grouchy is told “Don’t spiral.” And when Smurfette identifies with her naughty captors, she’s suffering from “Smurfholm Syndrome.” Adults can also mark time trying to guess who’s voicing all the bit-player Smurfs (Jimmy Kimmel, Jeff Foxworthy and Shaq, to name a few).

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