Let me sum up the theme of almost every movie made for small children in the last 20 years:
"You're incredible, sweetheart! You're special and unique. You can do or be anything if you put your mind to it and never give up on your family..."
Blah, blah, blah. Almost every time we put a movie on to babysit our children these days we're re-hammering home the same sense of grandiose self-entitlement we will later chide them for. When your kid gives up after failing something the first time and turns instantly into an apathetic snot-nosed teenager, you can thank yourself, and Hollywood.
The Smurfs aren't like that however. The Smurfs predate that trend. In fact, Smurfs are as badass as it gets.
First off, they live in Amanita muscaria mushrooms which are unpredictably psychoactive and more than a little poisonous. Siberian shaman will actually eat the mushroom and allow their body to filter out the impurities so that when everyone else drinks his urine they get extra lifted with much less risk of poisoning. Fifteen Smurf houses will kill a full-size human. Smurfs are only three apples high and they live and sleep in those things for hundreds of years unaffected.
Smurfs are also the only working model we have of communism. Smurfs share wealth, food and labour (and possibly Smurfette) and it works. No matter what gets thrown at them the socio-economic equality of the Smurfs never fails. Eat it Lenin, Papa Smurf is the real Vanguard (and the only one to wear red).
The Smurfs are also super efficient survivalists, able to nourish themselves almost exclusively on berries and nuts with the occasional cake for special events. Smurfs swear like sailors (but cleverly substituted the word "Smurf" to beat the censors) and all their pants have sewn-in boots. The Smurfs are more badass than Sam Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
At least the cartoon Smurfs are. The cinematic live-action Smurfs we see in The Smurfs 2, opening this weekend, are substantially less exciting. Director Raja Gosnell continues to attempt to modernize the Smurfs by placing them (and their capitalist pig foil Gargamel) into contemporary New York City and have them pummel us with the same believe-in-yourself messages and daddy-issue characterizations that plagues every other children's flick these days. The plot is something about Gargamel kidnapping Smurfette using a couple miniature punky narc kid things that get redeemed in the end.
These incessantly schmaltzy morality tales for children are too much. The cartoon Smurfs existed to entertain kids, not push on-the-spot exercise moves or the value of literacy. Those Smurfs understood the inherent childish awesomeness of ass-booting Brainy Smurf a hundred feet in the air every time he acted like an annoying, pretentious prick. The show was silly and fun, and happy to be just that.
Despite a solid cast and the occasional comedic flash, The Smurfs 2 has way too much pop-culture crap and pandered sentimentality. It misses the point — Smurfs already transcend humanity, you don't need to modernize them. And if you're gonna try you need to try a smurf-load harder than this. There's something offensive about watching Papa Smurf fight back tears — and why is my kid suddenly bugging me to buy him a Sony tablet?
(And I was kidding about Smurfette. Smurf babies are literally delivered by Storks carrying baskets — on a blue moon no less — and thus all Smurfs are asexual. This probably accounts for why their socio-economic system is so rock hard; no one is thinking with their dick. Smurfs smurfing rule).
2 Guns also opens. It looks like Mr & Mrs Smith but with no Angelina. Might be OK, but no Angelina, so...
1 Smurfette may be the exception. Although not the only female Smurf (don't forget Nanny and Sassy) Smurfette was actually created by the evil wizard Gargamel and then magically transformed into a real Smurf by one of Papa Smurf's spells. Smurfette is basically a hot, blond Smurf Frankenstein but since Gargamel was a human male, and presumably lonely, it's technically possible he may have constructed Smurfette with working parts. Somewhat sadly, whether those parts made the magic switch to "real Smurf" or not is hotly debated on the Internet.