‘The Pink Panther 2′ – Martin’s Clouseau detects few laughs

‘The Pink Panther 2′ – Martin’s Clouseau detects few laughs

Steve Martin stars in The Pink Panther 2

Audiences long ago stopped expecting Steve Martin comedies to entertain people over the age of 13.

The Kennedy Center Honoree once blazed a comic trail like few others, but for the past decade he’s been content to tickle family-friendly funny bones.

Can “Cheaper by the Dozen: The Cheapiest” be too far away?

So it’s hard to muster up much outrage that his latest film, a sequel to his unnecessary franchise reboot “The Pink Panther,” falls squarely in line with his past outings.

“The Pink Panther 2″ does commit a new cinematic foul for the silver-haired comic. The movie assembles a killer cast and wastes every last one of ‘em.

Just try making Lily Tomlin and John Cleese unfunny. It isn’t easy.

Someone is stealing the greatest artifacts ever, from the Shroud of Turin to the Pink Panther diamond.

Who you gonna call?

Enter Inspector Clouseau (Martin) who as the film opens is writing parking tickets to snobby Parisians. He’s quickly assigned to find the new master thief in town by Dreyfus (Cleese, replacing Kevin Kline here).

Clouseau teams up with a detective dream team, which includes Andy Garcia and Alfred Molina, to sniff out the thief.

Within 10 minutes the film drags out its “ahm-bur-gare” gag from the first film. Is the sequel out of fresh material already? Yup, although a few sight gags, including Clouseau dealing with a cascade of falling wine bottles, are moderately amusing.

Martin’s French accent remains a curiously funny concoction, but the set pieces around him are so hastily assembled, so obviously shoehorned into the narrative, that it’s hard to find pleasure in his performance.

And could the franchise bring a smidgen of consistency to Clouseau? In one scene his deductive skills are downright scary, but the next moment he’s so dumb it’s a wonder he can tie his shoes.

It’s lazy scriptwriting, and since Martin gets a screenwriting credit here he shoulders some of the blame.

Tomlin appears for a few disjointed scenes as a sensitivity expert, but her exchanges with Martin won’t make anyone forget their classic pairing in “All of Me.”

“The Pink Panther 2″ delivers a few mild chuckles, but it’s a comedy best appreciated by audiences who never saw Martin strut across the stages as King Tut – or wearing an arrow threw his head.

(Photo: Steve Martin strains to bring the funny in “The Pink Panther 2.”)

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

PiperNo Gravatar February 6, 2009 at 5:44 pm

It’s depressing to see this kind of stuff.

First, you really can’t beat Peter Sellers, so why would you want to?

More importantly, why would Steve Martin want to? If you’ve read Born Standing Up, you really understand what an incredible talent Martin is and how he paved the way for so many. I cannot give up my love for him and because of the book, I will always hold him up high, so I choose to just focus on his earlier works.

But these are the things you already stated in the opening of your post. I guess if you’re Steve Martin, you call your own shots. And I suppose that this is what’s making him happy now.

cftotoNo Gravatar February 6, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Great point, Piper. I read “Born Standing Up,” too … and the most vivid impression it left on me was how he wanted to be pure … and that once he was being applauded just for appearing on stage and not for any joke he was about to tell, he retired his stand up act for good. It was all about the art. What happened to that Steve Martin? Where is he???

PiperNo Gravatar February 6, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Man, that was an amazing book.

My favorite part is when he decided to never allow for the “release of the audience” meaning, never give a punchline. To just allow the audience to laugh whenever they wanted. What a simple but monumental discovery.

My other favorite is when he made all the people fill the empty pool while he acted like he was swimming over all of them.

Genius. I miss that guy.

superdave524No Gravatar February 7, 2009 at 3:28 am

I enjoyed Bowfinger and All of Me, but Steve’s movies always lagged behind his earlier stuff. Maybe he’s too smart to be in movies. Maybe he figured out P.T. Barnum’s maxim that nobody ever went broke under-estimating America’s intelligence, and just starting aiming low.

cftotoNo Gravatar February 7, 2009 at 3:40 am

Sometimes I think movies aren’t a good fit for some actors … like the very talented Martin Short… Hollywood has no idea how to tap his abilities these days

LucyNo Gravatar February 9, 2009 at 8:28 pm

It’s nowhere NEAR as good as the original, though, and the problem isn’t Steve Martin – he’s fine. The problem is the script

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