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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 Zaccaria: At the same time that Martin Luther was attacking abuses in the Church, a reformation within the Church was already being attempted. Among the early movers of the Counter-Reformation was Anthony Zaccaria. His mother became a widow at 18 and devoted herself to the spiritual education of her son. He received a medical doctorate at 22 and, while working among the poor of his native Cremona in Italy, was attracted to the religious apostolate. He renounced his rights to any future inheritance, worked as a catechist and was ordained a priest at the age of 26. Called to Milan in a few years, he laid the foundations of three religious congregations, one for men and one for women, plus an association of married couples. Their aim was the reform of the decadent society of their day, beginning with the clergy, religious and lay people. 
<p>Greatly inspired by St. Paul (his congregation is named the Barnabites, after the companion of that saint), Anthony preached with great vigor in church and street, conducted popular missions and was not ashamed of doing public penance. </p><p>He encouraged such innovations as the collaboration of the laity in the apostolate, frequent Communion, the Forty Hours devotion and the ringing of church bells at 3:00 p.m. on Fridays. </p><p>His holiness moved many to reform their lives but, as with all saints, it also moved many to oppose him. Twice his community had to undergo official religious investigation, and twice it was exonerated. </p><p>While on a mission of peace, he became seriously ill and was brought home for a visit to his mother. He died at Cremona at the age of 36.</p> American Catholic Blog Lord, help me make my life more about you and less about me. May others see you in me—your image and likeness. Teach me ways to increase my time with you, my service to others, and my love for my family, for strangers, and for the poor. You are the light in the darkness. With each new day, may we be light to one another.

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