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Film review: 2 reviews in 1: 'Smurfs 2,' '2 Guns'

August 05, 2013|By Bob Garver | Special to The Herald-Mail
  • This publicity image released by Sony Pictures Animation shows from left, Grouchy, voiced by George Lopez, Vanity, voiced by John Oliver and Papa Smurf, voiced by Jonathan Winters a scene from the film "Smurfs 2." (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Animation)
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Animat / AP

At the end of their first weekend, new releases “The Smurfs 2” and “2 Guns” were practically tied at around the $27.5 million mark at the box office. 

“Smurfs 2” must have sold more tickets because much of its audience was children who got in for a reduced rate and therefore had to come out in larger numbers for the film to equal its R-rated rival. 

On the other hand, “Smurfs 2” (which opened July 31) had a two-day head start on “2 Guns,” which means that the latter had a much larger day-to-day average and made money more quickly. It's hard to say which film is more popular at this point, so I've decided to do mini-reviews on both. 

“The Smurfs 2”

“The Smurfs” was my choice for the single worst movie of 2011. Now the little blue buffoons are back because apparently they didn't lower their audience's IQ enough the first time around. 

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The plot sees Smurfette (Katy Perry, delivering every line like she's on the verge of tears) kidnapped by the evil wizard Gargamel (Hank Azaria) and held hostage in Paris. Papa Smurf (the late Jonathan Winters) grabs a few second-tier Smurfs and travels to the human world where they meet up with their friends, Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Grace (Jayma Mays), along with their toddler son and Patrick's estranged stepfather (Brendan Gleeson), and go off to rescue her. 

Smurfette, meanwhile, is tempted to join Gargamel's side because it was he who created her in his lab and naughty fellow creation Vexy (Christina Ricci) argues that she can never escape her origin. 

The humor is as annoying as ever. Slapstick havoc gets wreaked everywhere, painful jokes are abundant, and the film still thinks it's funny to use the word “Smurf” as much as possible, especially as a substitute for profanity. But I can't trash the film too much this time around because it contains positive messages about unconditional familial love and how that love doesn't necessarily have to come from biological family members. So the film gets bumped up half a star to the point where it's merely a bad movie and not the worst of the year. 

One and a Half Stars out of Five.

“The Smurfs 2” is rated PG for some rude humor and action. Its running time is 105 minutes. 

“2 Guns”

“2 Guns” is a pretty standard buddy cop movie made more tolerable by the performances of stars Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg. It's not exactly a career high for either actor, but it shows the kind of personality they can give to even mediocre roles. 

Washington plays an undercover DEA agent assigned to befriend Wahlberg, use him to help rob a bank believed to be controlled by a drug cartel, and then arrest him. Wahlberg plays an undercover Naval Intelligence officer assigned to befriend Washington, use him to rob the bank, and then kill him. They turn on each other, but soon realize they'll have to work together to combat everybody affected by the robbery, including the cartel, the CIA, and their own organizations. 

It's a web of betrayal and violence that includes Washington's handler (Paula Patton), Wahlberg's C.O. (James Marsden), a high-ranking Navy admiral (Fred Ward), a corrupt CIA agent (Bill Paxton), and the cartel boss (Edward James Olmos). Critics seem to be gushing over the Paxton performance, with his southern-fried monologues during torture and interrogation scenes. I found them to be pretty standard for villain monologue scenes. Instead I took interest in Olmos's drug lord. There's never any question as to where he stands and he has access to a whole evil cattle ranch. 

“2 Guns” never really works as an action film, but is an effective comedy if you focus on the witty repartee involving Washington and Wahlberg. Both actors are above this humdrum material, yet their combined forces make it more enjoyable than it should be.

Two Stars out of Five.

“2 Guns” is rated R for violence throughout, language and brief nudity. Its running time is 109 minutes. 

Contact Bob Garver at rrg251@nyu.edu


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