‘The Smurfs 2′ trailer unleashes the grey-skinned Naughties

Movie Talk

Everyone's favorite blue-skinned thingamajigs will take on some harrowing new enemies in "The Smurfs 2," the sequel to a movie that we never thought would ever exist at all, much less become a huge summer hit.

The first teaser trailer for the extremely Smurfy-looking sequel (you can't help but make references like that, can you?) is now among us, and with it comes the revelation of Gargamel's latest dastardly plan to destroy his sworn mini-enemies -- the creation of the Naughties, grey-skinned troublemaking Smurf clones (or something) that actually have real names like Vexy (voiced by Christina Ricci) and Vladimir (voiced by Christopher Mintz-Plasse). Check out the trailer below:

The Naughties seem to be a "nicer" variation on the truly harrowing Black Smurfs, the cause for a childhood nightmare or two back when "The Smurfs" was a hot Saturday morning cartoon series. The Black Smurfs were the brainless, berserker legions spawned from an innocent Smurf being bitten by a mutant black fly, which caused the poor little fella to turn black as night and angrily exclaim "Gnap!" at least a few dozen times. The sickness was spread by biting a fellow Smurf's tail, and soon the entire Smurf Village was overrun by these awful little demons.

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Kids' cartoons were a bit different back in the day.

Today's live-action filmmakers probably can't get away with the old show's variation on the zombie genre, so instead we have the reasonably coherent (and lighter-skinned) Naughties, the creation of which causes Hank Azaria to be even more ridiculously over-the-top than he was in the first movie ... to the point where Neil Patrick Harris (such a good sport for coming back!) can't help but close the trailer with his own villainous impersonation. Oh, and it wouldn't be a "Smurfs" trailer without at least one Azrael reaction shot -- oh, woe is the long-suffering feline companion of the world's most bumbling evil wizard.

Anyway, only a true Scrooge would attempt to actually "criticize" this thing without any sense of irony. It is what it is -- and, for Sony Pictures Animation, what it is is a lot, if the over $563 million worldwide box office gross of its predecessor is any indication of the blue (or, rather, green) bounty to come.

"The Smurfs 2" opens July 31, 2013.