Almost 240 years back, we decided that this bear-infested hunk of rock upon which the Pilgrims landed their floral cruiseships was, in a word, better. Better than the tyrannical monarchy from which our fathers sprung. Better than the compartmentalized jungle of kingships jutting out from Asia's left cheek. Yes, we insisted. America is the best. But Hollywood doesn't seem to foster the same state of mind. In its perpetual quest to earn a bigger buck, the film industry has taken to extending its family franchises with sequel flicks, always opting to one-up its originals in the later entries. But how do you do better than the stories delivered in The Smurfs, Cars, Garfield, The Muppet Movie, and Cheetah Girls? Simple: take 'em to Europe.
Yes. For some reason, Hollywood thinks the best way to go about churning out a superior follow-up feature is by sending a movie's characters across the pond to that land rich in art history and sex trafficking: Europe. In just about every sequel lately, families, animals, sentient mechanical beings, and the odd hybrid of cheetah and human tween are high tailing it to England, France, Italy, or one of the continent's other formidable metropolitan areas. The Smurfs 2 continues this trend with a trip to Paris, joining a long line of series that go abroad for their second terms...
Visits: Paris, France. Italy.
THE CHEETAH GIRLS 2
DEUCE BIGALOW: EUROPEAN GIGOLO
Visits: Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
GARFIELD: A TALE OF TWO KITTIES
Visits: London, England.
THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER
Visits: London, England.
THE FRENCH CONNECTION II
hAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE FROM GUANTANAMO BAY
Visits: Amsterdam, The Netherlands... briefly.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE'S MOST WANTED
Visits: Monte Carlo, Monaco.
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S EUROPEAN VACATION
Visits: London, England. Paris, France. Bavaria, Germany. Rome, Italy.
POCAHONTAS II: JOURNEY TO A NEW WORLD
THE PRINCESS DIARIES 2: ROYAL ENGAGEMENT
Visits: The fictional Mediterranean country of Genovia.
RUGRATS IN PARIS
Visits: Paris, France.
So what can we conclude from this? Is the film industry secretly manufactured by Europhiles who wish to hypnotize the masses into pledging allegiance once again to the Motherland? Is it a capitalistic ploy by foreign nations to earn tourism dollars by illustrating the glories of overseas travel? Or is it just an easy excuse for a sequel: "It's different! They're in Prague now!" We may never know. But we'll keep watching to find out. And also because, hey, a movie's a movie.