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Martin's silly Clouseau in the Pink Panther 2 lacks edge Sellers gave to role

By Paris H. Martin

This article was published February 6, 2009 at 3:46 a.m.

inspector-jacques-clouseau-steve-martin-joins-with-similarly-talented-law-enforcers-to-catch-a-thief-in-the-pink-panther-2

Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) joins with similarly talented law enforcers to catch a thief in The Pink Panther 2.

— The Pink

Hi, I'm Paris!

As a 9-month-old puppy, I know nothing of the comic legacy of Peter Sellers or anything about the peculiar genius of any whitesuited American stand-up comedian who rose to prominence in the 1970s, so I'm a perfect choice to tell you all about The Pink Panther2.

I'm a tabula rasa with no institutional memory or connection to the grand traditions of Western culture. Go ahead, imprint my little brain with bad foreign accents and dopey pratfalls! Yea!

So let's get started! The Pink Panther 2 is the work of Steve (no relation) Martin, a very smart and serious man who writes novels and plays, collects fine art and plays the banjo. My mom has interviewed him and she says he's very sophisticated, thoughtful and dignified.

He's rather grumpy in person though, which is OK, because you shouldn't have to be everything to everyone all the time. You should love yourself and everybody else (not Hitler!) for what they are.

Mr. Martin, it's perfectly all right to be serious anddistinguished and write plays about Picasso, Einstein and bunny rabbits. You don't have to always be the wild and crazy guy! That's just not you!

Maybe you can find a nice Henry Jaglomfilm in which to act.

Anyway, the movie starts with a cartoon with a panther prancing around (grrr!), which is funny. And then comes along the part where I wanted to snooze. But professional movie critics like me can't take a nap during the movie they're reviewing - not unless they're at a film-festival screening of Gus Van Sant's Gerry, dad says. But you can!

The movie has something to do with a thief who makes off with priceless artifacts and a so-called Dream Team of international investigators that is assembled to catch him. Among them is Mr. Martin's character, Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

He and adorable Emily Mortimer as his assistant Nicole talk in funny accents, and John Cleese as Chief Inspector Dreyfus talks funny in a different way. Andy Garcia as Italian investigator Vicenzo and a certain Bollywood star who will remain nameless because I don't want to be mean to her should both get up in the gym and start working on their fitness.

Jean Reno as Clouseau's sidekick Ponton looks like he's performing community service. He must have done something very wrong, but you can tell he feelsbad about it.

Here it would be tempting to paraphrase former Arizona Cardinals football coach Dennis Green and say the movie is what we thought it would be, except it's not. While my mom said the first movie in the rebooted series (whatever!) is pretty hateful and dad said Steve Martin completely missed the point of the Inspector Clouseau character - the haughtiness of Peter Seller's Clouseau is borne of insecurity, while Martin's is stupid enough to believe in his own competence - this one is fairly benign. It's just a silly thing, with only one sort of risque joke and no potty humor.

At least Lily Tomlin as political correctness consultant Mrs. Berenger looks happy that she got to go to Paris (again, no relation!). Or at least to a soundstage where scenes of Paris got rearprojected.

I was surprised to find out (spoiler alert!) that the Pink Panther is a diamond and not a brandof attic insulation. So points there, Mr. Harald Zwart, director!

While The Pink Panther 2 is not a great movie, it is the best - and second - I've ever had the opportunity to review (the first was Paul Blart: Mall Cop). If you are easily amused or looking for a place to catch a snooze, I recommend it. And so, Pink Panther 2, I bestowon you one pink pony!

Paris H. Martin does her own work but sometimes she seeks the advice of Democrat-Gazette film critic Philip Martin. She's too little to have a Facebook page but you can write her at:

pmartin@arkansasonline.com

MovieStyle, Pages 37, 42 on 02/06/2009

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