02 August 2013

The Road to a Blockbuster: Smurfs 2 Guns

Here we are another another Summer Friday Morning, so it's time for the Road to a Blockbuster - our weekly examination of the cultural, commercial, and critical potential of each big nationwide release that hits our nation's theaters. We're looking here not only for signs that films will do well financially, but whether or not these movies will resonate with our public cultural consciousness ten or twenty years from now. And this week, folks - well, this week is one of the roughest weeks of the whole Blockbuster Season.

Today both The Smurfs 2 (2013) and 2 Guns (2013) hits theaters. None seem all that appealing, and as a result, The Wolverine (2013) has a chance to secure any legacy it may have. Still, we're here to talk about Smurfs and Denzel, so let's do that:

The Smurfs (2011) debuted against Cowboys & Aliens (2011) a few years ago, and perhaps most famously, nearly came out on top. Harrison Ford was not pleased. The Smurfs did really well though, because unlike fanboys, little kids actually come out for horrible, horrible movies, and there is perhaps no better super kiddie-friendly flick around. It's truly a rough picture to sit through for any self-respecting parent, but kids eat up this shit like crack.
What is that, a Nega Smurf? Evil Smurfette Twin!?
Seriously, I know nothing about this movie.

It's actually incredible that out of the ridiculous amount of old cartoons-turned movies that The Smurfs caught on and became its own little franchise. There has been a crazy amount of old television cartoons that have been turned into movies in the past decade. A quick glance will illuminate some of the worst films of all time. It's kind of insane that all things equal, the Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks rise to the top.

The Smurfs was a fairly subpar television show, notable really only for the use of "Smurf" for just about everything, which could be played up to comic effect by inappropriate older kids. Or the debate as to just whatever Smurfette actually is. Actually, consider me a Smurf newb, but I did not realize that Smurfette was created by Gargamel to sow dissent within Smurf society. Either way, she's clearly either a whore, or the most desirable member of Smurf Village, being the sole lady. Essentially, Katy Perry is the perfect actress to voice her.

I also enjoy how these films have made no attempt to modernize or rationalize Gargamel - Hank Azaria seems to be playing him straight from the TV show (or the Belgian comic? The Smurfs started as a Belgian comic strip? How do I know so little about the Smurfs?), with a crazy tattered robe, bald spot, and a complete overacting obsession with either eating the Smurfs or turning them into gold. Who knows. I'm actually getting kind of jazzed up about The Smurfs 2 now, just for the ultimate sheer ridiculousness of everything associated with that property.

But we've also got 2 Guns this weekend, which may be one of the least creative and more awkward titles of a major motion picture in some time. It's Denzel and Mark as two undercover agents that were working to bust each other but then Bill Paxton gets pissed at them, I don't know. I can't really make any sense of the trailer. A red band trailer was released a few days ago, that really doesn't show anything that scandalous, but there may be a handful of laughs here.

And as this article at Cinema Blend accurately attests to, 2 Guns could be the best movie of 2013 that nobody sees - because its marketing material has been so damn generic. Sure Mark and Denzel are an extremely likable pair of actors, although Mark has really stumbled with these sort of films like Contraband (2012) and Broken City (2013). If 2 Guns is dissimilar to these films, you wouldn't really know it, but that latest red band trailer does offer more of the snappy, short tempered, and quick-witted Mark from The Other Guys (2010) and Pain & Gain (2013), which is far better form.
It's time like these where we need a
Jay Pharaoh / Andy Samberg parody real bad

Denzel also makes a lot of these stupid generic cop movies like Man on Fire (2004) and The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009). Sprinkled in there as of late, though, are more outside the box features like The Book of Eli (2010) and Unstoppable (2010). It's tough to figure out what to expect, but with so many clichéd cop films under their belt, these two need to come together for something much fresher. It helps that Denzel is coming off of Flight (2012), which is one of his better performances in year in a movie whose only fault was not always focusing on him, as well as being about 45 minutes too long. Both of these actors are really hot, and that scene where Denzel doesn't look at an explosion? What a cool guy.

So, Smurfs 2 and 2 Guns. Which one will we be talking about ten years from now? The Smurfs 2 could get points for being really really weird, inspiring a great, awkward Britney Spears song, and starring more celebrity voices than any other animated film (from Shaq to John Oliver to Shaun White. Yes, it's insane). 2 Guns could be awesome, but no one will really notice. At this point, I can unabashedly say it's a solid Christmas Netflix pick-up that could be surprisingly good.

So next week we have...holy shit - young adult fare Percy Jackson (they made a second one of those?), R-comedy We're the Millers, sci-fi epic Elysium, and the Cars spin-off from Disney, Planes. Jeezum crow. What a wacky weekend. We're still choking down our Smurfs!

Like Boyz II Men, will you Smurfs 2 Guns this weekend?

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