Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODFUN -

Mid­way through Raja Gos­nell’s Smurfs se­quel, Grumpy Smurf turns over a new leaf. Sick of be­ing an­noyed (and of an­noy­ing oth­ers), he starts to view the world – and the mis­sion in­volv­ing his pint-size friends – through rose-col­ored glasses. He even adopts the nick­name Pos­i­tive Smurf. Sud­denly, things don’t seem half bad. Grumpy’s up­beat out­look must be con­ta­gious, be­cause The Smurfs 2 seems more en­joy­able than Gos­nell’s 2011 fam­ily fea­ture. Daddy dilem­mas plague our true-blue he­roes this time out. On her lat­est birth­day, Smur­fette (voiced by pop star Katy Perry) feels like an out­cast in the cheer­ful Smurf vil­lage and won­ders whether she’s bet­ter off with her “birth” fa­ther – the evil wizard, Gargamel (Hank Azaria, earn­ing his pay­check with dili­gent vamp­ing). Mean­while, in New York City, hu­man Smurf al­lies Pa­trick (Neil Pa­trick Har­ris) and Grace Winslow (Jayma Mays) con­tend with the sud­den ar­rival of Pa­trick’s coarse, self-cen­tered fa­ther-in­law, Vic­tor (Bren­dan Glee­son). And in Paris, Gargamel and his dish­wa­ter-gray min­ions, the Naugh­ties, have hatched a new scheme to kid­nap Smur­fette and steal the pre­cious essence that turned her blue. Al­most ev­ery­thing about Smurfs 2 sig­ni­fies an im­prove­ment over the orig­i­nal. Five credited screen­writ­ers over­load Gos­nell with an abun­dance of light­weight story lines, al­low­ing Smurfs 2 to bounce along and side­step the su­per­flu­ous comedic pot­holes that knocked the first film off course.



Played by Ethan Hawke, El­li­son Oswalt is a true-crime writer who, in an ef­fort to re­search his next book, moves with his wife and two chil­dren into a house where the last oc­cu­pants were hung from a tree in the back yard. Be­fore he has fully un­packed, El­li­son dis­cov­ers a box in the at­tic con­tain­ing a movie pro­jec­tor and a stack of Su­per 8 films with ex­plicit footage of that most re­cent mas­sacre, along with sev­eral other sim­i­larly grisly mur­ders. Af­ter watch­ing a few min­utes of this snuff-film li­brary, El­li­son re­alises some­one must have left the movies specif­i­cally for him. He does what any sane, re­spon­si­ble fa­ther would do: consult a spe­cial­ist in the oc­cult, who tells El­li­son that the cul­prit is most likely the an­cient Baby­lo­nian de­ity Bughuul, who feeds on the souls of chil­dren. None of this, of course, means that the movie isn’t scary. It ac­tu­ally is, from time to time. But it’s the kind of empty-calo­rie ter­ror that may make you jump for a sec­ond – but that doesn’t keep you up at night. The In­de­pen­dent, Wash­ing­ton Post

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