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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Smurfs 2

By
Joseph McAleer
Source: Catholic News Service


Smooth Smurf, voiced by Shaquille O'Neal, is seen in the animated movie "The Smurfs 2."
If summer's speedy passing has you feeling blue, then head to "The Smurfs 2" (Columbia) for a jolly pick-me-up. The lighthearted tone of this 3-D sequel -- which, like its 2011 predecessor, mixes animation with live action -- comes courtesy of the familiar azure-hued elves of the title.

Young children will be enchanted and laugh themselves silly, while their parents will appreciate the script's positive messages about friendship and family -- potty jokes notwithstanding.

Raja Gosnell returns to direct the proceedings, which once again showcase the widely beloved comic-book characters created by Belgian cartoonist Peyo (Pierre Culliford, 1928-1992). Besides the earlier film, Peyo's diminutive figures -- said to be only three apples tall -- also populated a 1980s Hanna-Barbera televised cartoon series.

Picking up from the events of the first big-screen outing, evil human wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) remains obsessed with the squishy, sky-colored creatures. He wants the formula for "Smurf-essence," which promises eternal beauty and unlimited power.

Gargamel fashions his own elves to infiltrate Smurf Village. The first mole he created, the blond-tressed Smurfette (voice of Katy Perry), failed him. She was turned -- as they say in the world of espionage -- and is now one of the family.

So Gargamel tries again with two new beings whom he dubs the Naughties: Vexy (voice of Christina Ricci) and Hackus (voice of J.B. Smoove).

Vexy kidnaps Smurfette and returns her to Gargamel, who has set up shop in Paris as a celebrity sorcerer, playing the city's famed Opera House nightly.

Papa Smurf (voice of Jonathan Winters, in his last film role) must rally the troops to rescue Smurfette before she is forced to reveal the formula -- an eventuality which would, we are told, unleash "total Smurf-ageddon." Joining him are Clumsy (voice of Anton Yelchin), Grouchy (voice of George Lopez) and Vanity (voice of John Oliver).

Much like the dwarves in "Snow White," a Smurf's name is a good indication of his character and temperament.

There's human assistance, too, in the form of still-loyal friends: couple Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays) now have a son named, naturally, Blue (Jacob Tremblay). Victor (Brendan Gleeson), Patrick's estranged stepfather and owner of a chain of corn dog restaurants (don't ask), tags along for the ride.

As the search for Smurfette barrels along, the City of Light has never looked lovelier -- or bluer. Amid the slapstick action sequences, there's a lot of talk about family, especially parentage. Does Smurfette owe allegiance to her real "father," Gargamel, or to Papa Smurf, who welcomed her to Smurfdom?

"It doesn't matter where you come from," Papa Smurf instructs. "What matters is who you choose to be."

There's more, as "The Smurfs 2" concludes with a surprisingly pro-life message: "Life is the most precious thing," Papa Smurf intones. "We must protect it."

May young and old alike absorb that bit of Smurf-essence.

The film contains moderately intense action sequences, some slapstick violence and mild scatological humor. The Catholic News Service classification is A-I -- general patronage. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG -- parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

*****
Joseph McAleer is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.



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Anthony Claret: The "spiritual father of Cuba" was a missionary, religious founder, social reformer, queen’s chaplain, writer and publisher, archbishop and refugee. He was a Spaniard whose work took him to the Canary Islands, Cuba, Madrid, Paris and to the First Vatican Council. 
<p>In his spare time as weaver and designer in the textile mills of Barcelona, he learned Latin and printing: The future priest and publisher was preparing. Ordained at 28, he was prevented by ill health from entering religious life as a Carthusian or as a Jesuit, but went on to become one of Spain’s most popular preachers. </p><p>He spent 10 years giving popular missions and retreats, always placing great emphasis on the Eucharist and devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Her rosary, it was said, was never out of his hand. At 42, beginning with five young priests, he founded a religious institute of missionaries, known today as the Claretians. </p><p>He was appointed to head the much-neglected archdiocese of Santiago in Cuba. He began its reform by almost ceaseless preaching and hearing of confessions, and suffered bitter opposition mainly for opposing concubinage and giving instruction to black slaves. A hired assassin (whose release from prison Anthony had obtained) slashed open his face and wrist. Anthony succeeded in getting the would-be assassin’s death sentence commuted to a prison term. His solution for the misery of Cubans was family-owned farms producing a variety of foods for the family’s own needs and for the market. This invited the enmity of the vested interests who wanted everyone to work on a single cash crop—sugar. Besides all his religious writings are two books he wrote in Cuba: <i>Reflections on Agriculture</i> and <i>Country Delights</i>. </p><p>He was recalled to Spain for a job he did not relish—being chaplain for the queen. He went on three conditions: He would reside away from the palace, he would come only to hear the queen’s confession and instruct the children and he would be exempt from court functions. In the revolution of 1868, he fled with the queen’s party to Paris, where he preached to the Spanish colony. </p><p>All his life Anthony was interested in the Catholic press. He founded the Religious Publishing House, a major Catholic publishing venture in Spain, and wrote or published 200 books and pamphlets. </p><p>At Vatican I, where he was a staunch defender of the doctrine of infallibility, he won the admiration of his fellow bishops. Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore remarked of him, "There goes a true saint." At the age of 63, he died in exile near the border of Spain.</p> American Catholic Blog The greatest tragedy of our world is that men do not know, really know, that God loves them. Some believe it in a shadowy sort of way. If they were to really think about it they would soon realize that their belief in God’s love for them is very remote and abstract. Because of this lack of realization of God’s love for them, men do not know how to love God back. —Catherine de Hueck Doherty

 
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