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The blue, mushroom-dwelling creatures known as Smurfs stole America’s hearts in the early 1980s when they first appeared on Saturday morning television cartoons. Decades later, they made their second big screen appearance in the 2013 film, aptly titled “The Smurfs 2.” While the original 2011 movie kept the Smurfs’ feet firmly in the Big Apple, this follow-up sent the loveable munchkins to Paris.

Sony Pictures was behind these two films, and the studio expected “The Smurfs 2” to rival the success of “The Smurfs,” which ultimately grossed more than $550 million in international box office receipts. While they kept most of the same characters and voices, a few new surprises were also added.

“The Smurfs 2” begins with Smurfette (voiced by Katy Perry), the first Smurf, distraught over her decision to betray her fellow Smurfs and hand them over to Gargamel (Hank Azaria), the evil wizard. She senses a change in the other Smurfs and believes that they don’t want to talk to her anymore and don’t want her anywhere near them. What she doesn’t know is that they are simply planning a big surprise party for her upcoming birthday.

Since the last film, Gargamel has spent his time wisely, becoming quite the attraction in Paris, where he woos audiences with his magic tricks and amazing sorcery. In order to continue to succeed, he needs to get his hands on more Smurf essence. He begins to plan how to get hold of Smurfette so that he can hold her for ransom in exchange for Papa Smurf’s (Jonathan Winters) formula for creating Smurfs.

Shortly after Gargamel executes his plan, Papa Smurf finds out about Smurfette’s kidnapping and begins planning a way to get her back. He creates special crystals so that Brainy Smurf (Fred Armison), Gutsy Smurf (Alan Cumming) and Chunky Smurf (Gary Basaraba) can get to New York City to ask their friend, Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris) for help. In a strange twist of fate, Grouchy Smurf (George Lopez), Clumsy Smurf (Anton Yelchin) and Vanity Smurf (John Oliver) end up making the trip, much to the dismay of Papa Smurf.

Papa Smurf heads to New York City with the other three Smurfs and comes to the end of Patrick Winslow’s son’s birthday celebration. As the whole family is reunited, they first meet Patrick’s stepfather, Victor Doyle (Brendan Gleeson). After informing the group, the Smurfs and their friends begin the long journey to Paris.

Shortly after their arrival, they find Gargamel and come up with a plan to get to Smurfette. Victor, Patrick and his wife Grace (Jayma Mays) distract Gargamel during one of his performances. During the distraction, the Smurfs will search for Smurfette. What the group doesn’t realize is that Smurfette managed to escape on her own, but she was quickly found and recaptured by one of Gargamel’s creations, the Naughties.

Either Stockholm Syndrome or just a deep sensitivity kicks in with Smurfette when she realizes that the Naughties will die if they don’t get Smurf’s essence quickly. She can’t bear to see that happen, even if they are the ones who kidnapped her, and she quickly gives Gargamel the formula she’s been looking for.

As with most good versus evil movies, a battle soon ensues and good triumphs. The Naughties transform into real Smurfs and return to Smurf Village with the rest of the group, and the Winslows return to New York City.

Hank Azaria and Neil Patrick Harris reprized their roles from “The Smurfs” in this highly anticipated sequel. Neil Patrick Harris, who has become one of Hollywood’s biggest names, rose to fame with his role as young Doogie Howser on the hit TV series “Doogie Howser, MD,” which ran from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. His sharp humor and classic good looks were the perfect choice for the role, though Harris’ experience in voice work probably helped seal the deal. Previous animated performances by him have included “The Penguins of Madagascar,” “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” and “Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore.” Hank Azaria also has a background in animation, having provided his voice for productions like “Family Guy” and “Happy Feet Two.”

Not everything was happy behind the scenes of “The Smurfs 2”. Against the wishes of his fans, Odile Anjelou’s part was cut from the film. The character, played by Sofia Vergara, only made a cameo this time, as the director had a hard time fitting the look without making it seem gratuitous. A second loss came with the death of Jonathan Winters, the man who brought Papa Smurf to life. Winters died shortly after production on the film wrapped.

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