Okay, it won't win any Best Movie
awards, but did anyone really expect it to? For the most
part this is a clear improvement on the first film; the moviemakers seem to have made a conscious effort to note the stuff that worked in that movie and include more of it here, while throwing out most of the stuff that didn't work. While they've kept the self-aware, half-parodic tone, there are far fewer gross-out jokes, less overt cynicism, more genuine emotion and a lot
more of John Oliver as Vanity Smurf.
Hank Azaria does a good job as Gargamel, and his interplay with Azrael has vastly improved — as has Azrael, whose CGI is tons better than in the previous movie; here he's been given a lot more genuinely catlike movements and as a result is much more impressive and believable. The Naughties turned out to actually be pretty charming and likeable, and Smurfette's emotional journey was pretty well-done.
The absolute worst
part, though, is the character of Patrick Winslow. This isn't really the fault of Neil Patrick Harris, who seems to be trying his best, but... ugh.
In the first movie "Master Winslow" was a stereotypically immature, self-centered and unlikeable Man Child
of the kind you get in movies like this, whose development was stale, predictable and unconvincing — this time around he's worse,
as his single character trait in this movie is his irrational hatred for his loveable oaf of a step-father. His story arc in this movie is completely pointless, and even more
unconvincing than in the first one, and frankly his role could and should
have been cut in half in order to make room for more development for the Smurfs.
It is a little disappointing that while Smurfette and Papa got good roles here, the rest of the Smurfs got very little to do — even Grouchy, Vanity and Clumsy were pretty much just there as comedy relief. Mind you, they did provide some genuine laughs; Vanity especially.
I hear rumors that the third Smurfs movie will be about Gargamel traveling back in time to his first meeting with the Smurfs... which I hope to Smurf is true. Maybe we won't have to endure Patrick Winslow in that movie. He really is one of the worst, most unlikeable human protagonists in a Human Focused Adaptation