THE SMURFS 2
About the Film
In Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation's 2011 hit The Smurfs, the world's favorite three-apple-high heroes proved that fifty years of success in every medium is no accident. Since first appearing in the pages of a Belgian comic book in 1958, Peyo's Smurfs have entertained children and adults around the world, coming to life in comics, books, television series, films, videogames, live shows, figurines (over 300 million sold)... and, finally, they ruled the world's box office. The film was truly a global phenomenon, going on to take in over $560 million. "Whether you live in Brazil, or in China, or in Russia, or Paris, or Belgium, or New York... whether they're los Pitufos, or i Puffi, or les Schtroumpfs... everybody loves the Smurfs," says producer Jordan Kerner. "With The Smurfs, and now The Smurfs 2, we're seeking to make films that translate across all geographical boundaries -- which fits, because the themes of the Smurfs cross all cultures."
"These are characters that live in people's childhoods," Kerner explains. "They are remembered and revered in the hearts of the generations who saw or read them. So we believed it was our duty to take the characters that the audience knew and loved, and expand them into a present time, from an emotional and a comedic standpoint. Peyo's daughter and a co-producer on the film Veronique Culliford and I work extremely closely together on the development of the stories -- I'm very lucky that we get to work on a second film, because I love the characters, I love to see how they grow and change, and I desperately want to know what's going to happen to them after the movie's over. How could you not want to know what happens to Clumsy, Brainy, Grouchy, Papa, Smurfette, and Gargamel -- the characters the writers and Raja brought to the screen?"
And what happens is this: where the first film saw our adorable blue friends taking a bite out of the Big Apple, The Smurfs 2 sees them showing off their cosmopolitan appeal with a new adventure that takes them to the City of Light -- Paris, France!
"The most exciting thing for me, as a director, is setting this huge adventure all through Paris," says Raja Gosnell, who directs the film, reprising his role from the first film. "We even got to film places where, to my knowledge, no one has ever filmed before. We were on stage in the Paris Opera House, we shot in the flying buttresses of Notre Dame. Between the great love of the Smurfs and the work that Jordan and our co-producer Raphael Benoliel did with the Paris authorities, we got into places where I thought we'd never get to shoot. What more can a director ask for?"
As the film begins, Smurfette is in the Smurf village, surrounded by her brothers and Papa, but still feeling somewhat alone. After all, she hasn't quite come to terms with her origins. As everyone knows, Smurfette was created by Gargamel as part of one of his evil schemes -- but Papa used love and a magic spell to turn her into a True Blue Smurf. That was all a long time ago, but still... she's not quite sure about it all. "She starts to ask herself some questions: where does she come from, does she fit in," says Katy Perry, who voices Smurfette. "In a way, it's like she's becoming a teenager, asking the same kinds of questions we all go through when we come of age. 's really trying to figure out if she's a real Smurf. She was created by Gargamel, so there's a bit of naughtiness that's been subdued for a long, long time. But it's not about where you came from or who created you; it's what you choose to be and where you want to go in life."
"In a way, she thinks of Gargamel as her 'birth father,' if you will, and Papa as the man who raised her and nurtured her. So that's the question -- is it nature or nurture?" says Raja Gosnell. "Is she the child of the parent who birthed her -- sort of -- or the child of the Smurf who raised her?"
These questions come to the fore when Gargamel plots yet another evil scheme to capture the Smurfs. "Gargamel has, in essence, created Smurfette's 'brother and sister' -- the Naughties, Hackus and Vexy," explains Kerner. "They are just like Smurfette, created from a lump of clay. Gargamel wants to turn them into True Blue Smurfs, but only because then he can capture their essence -- in fact, if he can find the magic spell that turned Smurfette True Blue, then he could make countless Smurfs and squeeze the essence out of them to become the most powerful wizard the world has ever seen."
And the only way Gargamel can get that spell is to smurf-nap Smurfette and bring her to Paris. "If there weren't a bad guy, there would be no need for heroes," says Gosnell. "So what better bad guy is there than Gargamel? He's sinister, but goofy. He's capable of doing dark things, but you just know he's going to mess it up. It's so much fun to watch him plot... and plan... and flounder. Amazingly enough, I find myself rooting for Gargamel at times -- he's just so driven and passionate about what he does, and it's so amusing to watch things go bad for him."
The job of kidnapping Smurfette is one he tasks to Hackus and Vexy. Since they aren't True Blue Smurfs, Hackus and Vexy aren't Smurfs at all: in fact, they're decidedly naughty, so that's why Gargamel dubs them: the Naughties. And there's nothing a Naughty like Vexy would rather do than kidnap her 'sister,' Smurfette. "Vexy's not really bad -- she's misguided," says Gosnell. "Gargamel is the only parent she's ever known, so of course all she's ever learned from him has been less-than-good. She sets out to manipulate Smurfette, to trick her into feeling like she's bonding with the Naughties, like she's part of the family. But a funny thing happens along the way and Vexy's plan has some unintended consequences."
When word reaches the Village that Smurfette has been kidnapped, Papa doesn't hesitate, forming a plan to bring her back with the help of the best Smurfs for the job: Gutsy, Brainy, and Hefty. But, of course, a "clumsy" snafu ensures that Papa gets stuck with a "B" team -- namely, Vanity, Clumsy, and Grouchy. (As Passive-Aggressive Smurf puts it, "I'm sure narcissism, ineptitude, and pessimism will be just as helpful. Good luck with that.") That's OK -- Papa's got one more trick up his sleeve: he'll call on his old friends, the Winslows, for help once more. Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays return for another adventure with the Smurfs as Patrick and Grace Winslow, and this time, they are joined in the Paris rescue by Patrick's stepfather, Victor Doyle, played by Brendan Gleeson.
"In the first film, Neil's character was concerned about the responsibility of having a child -- he wanted to be a good father, but was a little nervous about it," Kerner points out. "In this film, we meet Patrick's stepfather -- and it turns out that Patrick is facing the same nature-versus-nurture questions that are nagging at Smurfette. Patrick has never gotten along with his stepfather, but he comes to see that family is about what you choose it to be. We were glad to be able to make this a deeply felt family movie -- and I think that there is a great deal more laughter and emotion in this film."
Taking the helm of the movie is Raja Gosnell. "Raja is one of the kindest, smartest, most prepared, wonderful people -- and as a director, he has a remarkable imagination and a great gift with the actors," says Kerner. "Not only does he have to direct actors who are playing opposite other actors, but actors who are interacting with a little piece of wire with a dot on it -- and, sometimes, he has to direct scenes that have no actors in them at all. It's very difficult, and of course it takes tremendous planning and discipline. With Raja in charge, every day on a Smurfs set is a revelatory and happy day."
Gosnell says that his favorite moments in the film are the ones that show off Paris to full effect. "We have a stork flight all through Paris," he notes. "Smurfette, Vexy, and Hackus are on the run, trying to escape from Azrael. They jump on some storks that are at Tuileries Garden, and they fly -- through the giant Ferris Wheel, over the Seine River, through the flying buttresses at Notre Dame, and over a sidewalk cafe, until they finish by circling the model of the Statue of Liberty that sits in the middle of the Seine. We have another sequence in which the Ferris Wheel breaks off its moorings and actually rolls through the city. There is also a very fun sequence in which Hackus gets loose in a candy store; he makes trouble, and it turns into a big chase -- a ride through the streets of Paris on a candy cart. Those sequences were especially fun for us."
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