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Movie Review - 'The Pink Panther 2'

The Pink Panther 2

Starring Steve Martin, Emily Mortimer, and Jean Reno
Directed by Harald Zwart
Rated PG

thepinkpanther2_galleryposter.jpg The best that can be said of The Pink Panther 2 is that it's not the embodiment of endless hell the first movie was. It's still not good, and it only approaches amusing two times, both courtesy of John Cleese, who like Steve Martin, should really investigate where his career went so wrong.

Martin's first foray into robbing Peter Sellers' grave was an enormous hit, despite how incredibly unfunny it was. He displayed a tone deaf ear for comedy and an alarming lack of taste, by putting his own inferior spin on the most beloved character created by another comedian. He co-wrote the script, too, making Martin guilty on all counts.

Walking out of the sequel, there was a pang of disappointment, not that the film was so bad, but that it wasn't worse. In fact, the only thing that's truly awful in the movie is Martin as Jacques Clouseau, the bumbling French police detective who nonetheless always gets his man. Martin has surrounded himself with a rather impressive array of co-stars, including returning cast members Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer, and Cleese replacing Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfuss, Clouseau's boss who is always at wit's end.

The sequel concerns the theft of some of the world's most sacred artifacts: The Shroud of Turin, the Fisherman's Ring (always worn by the Pope), an Imperial Sword in Japan, the Magna Carta, and the Pink Panther diamond. Taking credit for the crime is an unseen criminal mastermind known as The Tornado. The police know it's him, because he leaves his business cards everywhere he goes.

The great thing about heist movies is watching the heist. We know that Clouseau will eventually unmask the Tornado, but how did he commit his crimes? This movie's not interested in that, choosing instead to show us 80 minutes of Steve Martin flailing about. It wasn't funny before, and it's not funny now.

To fill the gaps, Martin is supported by a team of detectives - Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia, and Aishwarya Rai. What they're doing here, I have no idea. But Molina is reliable, Garcia is seldom great but even less seldom atrocious, and Rai certainly can fill the screen. And perhaps that's all they were looking for when casting the parts. Jeremy Irons shows up for a scene. And, finally, when push comes to shove, John Cleese gets an unexpected laugh near the climax of the movie. Of course, in this case, that one laugh is actually the climax of the movie.

Now, of course, you can't evaluate this movie on the same scale you would The Godfather. This is pure physical comedy that is designed to get laughs out of the pratfalls of Clouseau, and its success depends on how well the banana peel comedy really works. It can work, or at least it has. Just last summer, Step Brothers made the grade by aiming as low as it could. But it doesn't here. There are no jokes to even laugh at, and the spectacle of watching a 60-something-year-old comedian fall on his face isn't new, nor is it done in interesting ways.

And if this one sounds that bad, imagine what you missed if you skipped the first Pink Panther.

Watch the Pink Panther 2 trailer


Reader Comments (2)

Wow, I'm shocked. It must of really hurt to give it that first dirty ape, let alone the second one.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOrinn

If it had been as offensive as the first one, apes would be deducted. As it is, it's your pretty standard bad movie.

Friday, February 6, 2009 | Registered CommenterGet The Big Picture

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