Surprisingly enough, I’m writing today to give a somewhat positive review to Smurfs 2. I’m coming a little late to the game on this one, since Smurfs 2 came out in theaters last summer, but I just saw it last week when I took the kids to the free movie Kidsfest at our local theater.
I have to admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. While I did like the smurfs as a kid, I wasn’t ever a huge fan or collector, and the live action movie kind of creeps me out. But I had already seen the first one with the kids, and knew that Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays would make it somewhat bearable.
It turns out, I was surprised by an unexpected and somewhat contrived plot twist that really hit home for me, and has since inspired this blog.
Have you ever considered the Smurfs a blended family? I never did as a child. For one thing, that type of thing wasn’t really on my mind when I was a kid. But also, the Smurfs are not a traditional family by any since of the word, just sort of a group of people all in a Smurf city. But Smurfs 2 delves into the relationship between Papa Smurf and Smurfette, while simultaneously exploring the stepdad/stepson relationship between Patrick (Neil Patrick Harris) and Victor (Brendon Gleeson).
Rather than getting into the details (I wouldn’t want to spoil the movie for you), I will let you know that basically Victor has been the only real father figure in Patrick’s life, and while it’s clear they have a good relationship, Patrick remains somewhat distant and constantly reminds Victor he’s not his father. But eventually, thanks to the wisdom of Papa Smurf, Patrick realizes that biological father or not, it’s important to have someone in your life who loves and supports you, and it’s okay to let them know it. And in a parallel plot line, the same goes for Smurfette, who may have been created by Gargamel, but was loved and welcomed by Papa Smurf and all the other Smurfs.
I really get a thrill out of movies like this. When I was first married, it seemed like we were constantly hit with movies that portrayed stepparents as mean to the kids or just clueless. Fairy tales come to mind first. After all, look at the way the stepmother treats Cinderella versus her biological children. But even worse were the movies made in today’s time that continued that stereotype, or had story lines that have you rooting for the mother and father to get back together to make a “real” family.
I make a point to avoid those movies whenever possible. Building a strong blended family takes a lot of work and positive attitudes. I don’t need a movie coming in and undermining all of that. Some of the movies that are banned in our house include Liar Liar, starring Jim Carrey, which is top on my list of offensive movies. In the end the mom and dad get back together! The same thing happens in the movie 2012, starring John Cusack. Mrs. Doubtfire also made my list of movies to avoid. Even though it’s not clear Robin Williams and Sally Field get back together in the end, the movie still made me uncomfortable how she treated the kids’ father.
Luckily, those types of plot lines seem to be happening less and less, and there are more movies and shows that provide positive examples of stepparents and blended families. Here are a few that I like:
Phineas and Ferb. This one makes a blended family such an inconsequential part of the story line that my stepson didn’t even know they were one! Candace and Phineas’ mom is married to Ferb’s dad, and obviously the family blended together very well, as the two brothers are inseparable.
1600 Penn. This was a short-lived series, but the first lady (Jenna Elfman) was a stepmom to a family of four. I generally liked how they integrated that into different plot lines. Some kids took to her well, others clashed, and overall they had pretty normal interactions, even if it was set in the White House.
Love Actually. Daniel (Liam Neeson) navigates the role of stepfather admirable=y after suffering the loss of his wife.
Juno. Allison Janney’s role in this film is the stepmother, and it’s written in as just a fact of life. Best of all, she and Juno have a good relationship.
Now I can add Smurfs 2 to this list. The movie probably won’t make it on many lists, like the top 100 movies of all time or even the top kids movies, but being on the list of stepmom-approved shows is a well-deserved honor.