Ten things I can tell you after seeing "The Pink Panther 2":
1. Nothing is harder and more elusive than successful slapstick on screen. Nothing.
2. There's a reason "The Pink Panther" and "A Shot in the Dark" hold up.
Those were the first two films featuring the peerlessly confident dolt Inspector Clouseau as played by Peter Sellers and directed by Blake Edwards. The gags came in all sizes, but they rarely left character in the dust.
3. Why did the later Sellers / Edwards Clouseau pictures get to be such a drag?
Because Edwards started confusing bigger and more destructive with funnier. What do you remember more fondly? Sellers wreaking elegant havoc at the billiards table? Or, years later, the exhausting Herbert Lom trying to incinerate his nemesis with a doomsday machine?
4. The funniest bit in the strained 2006 "Pink Panther" remake starring Steve Martin was verbal slapstick, as opposed to physical.
I'm speaking of the English lesson in which Martin's Clouseau tries to learn the phrase "I would like to buy a hamburger." Martin is hilarious with this sort of mangle-mouthed routine. He's also a formidable physical comedian, and now that he's in his early 60s (Sellers was in his late 30s when he made the original "Pink Panther" and "A Shot in the Dark," also known as "the good ones") you don't want to see him -- or, just as often, Martin's double -- getting thrown through walls or onto coffee tables. You want to see what he can do, not what he can't.
5. In "The Pink Panther 2" the cast sprints way, way out ahead of the material, and miles ahead of the director, Harald Zwart.
I enjoyed Emily Mortimer, back as Nicole, Clouseau's soul mate. Andy Garcia (as a rakish Italian sleuth) has a funny bit with a mirror, involving Jeremy Irons, who looks vaguely distressed at finding himself in a disposable "Pink Panther" sequel.
6. The vibe of "PP2" is more consciously '60s than Martin's earlier Clouseau adventure.
The ensemble includes a returning Jean Reno as Clouseau's right-hand man, and John Cleese replacing Kevin Kline as Inspector Dreyfus, who has mysteriously morphed from French to English.
7. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan portrays an expert on the subject of the suspected diamond thief who steals the Panther, along with the Shroud of Turin and the pope's ring. She's not what you'd call unsightly. She is in fact what you'd call "sightly." This is all the movie asks of her.
8. Here's the big problem with "PP2": Most of it, even the routine stuff, would work twice as well if director Zwart and editor Julia Wong eased up and allowed the performers to interact -- to do their thing in medium shot, without a lot of pushy close-ups and overemphasis, so that their bodies might inform what their faces are up to.
9. When Martin shares a scene with Lily Tomlin, his "All of Me" cohort (she plays a political-correctness counselor, appalled at Clouseau's casual, clueless prejudices), you have to smile, partly because they snag some laughs from unpromising setups, and partly because you're remembering back to the dance they did together at the end of "All of Me."
10. Not many performers can earn a fair-sized laugh by pronouncing "island" as "izz-land." Steve Martin is one of them.
Check out the trailer for 'Pink Panther 2'
The Pink Panther 2, the sequel to the 2006 worldwide hit, stars Steve Martin as he reprises the role of intrepid-if-bumbling French police detective, Inspector Jacques Clouseau. When legendary treasures from around the world are stolen – including the priceless Pink Panther Diamond! – Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese) is forced to assign Clouseau to a team of international detectives and experts charged with catching the thief and retrieving the stolen artifacts. Martin is joined by original co-stars Jean Reno (as Ponton, his partner) and Emily Mortimer (as Nicole, the object of his awkward affections). The investigative dream team is played by Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The story is set in Paris and Rome.
Pink Panther 2 MPAA rating: PG (for some suggestive humor, brief mild language and action).
Running time: 1:32.
Starring: Steve Martin (Inspector Clouseau); Jean Reno (Ponton); Emily Mortimer (Nicole); Andy Garcia (Vicenzo); Alfred Molina (Pepperidge); John Cleese (Dreyfus); Lily Tomlin (Mrs. Berenger); Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (Sonia); Yuki Matsuzaki (Kenji).
Directed by Harald Zwart; written by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber and Martin, based on Blake Edwards' "Pink Panther" films; photographed by Denis Crossan; edited by Julia Wong; music by Christophe Beck ("Pink Panther" theme by Henry Mancini); production design by Rusty Smith; produced by Robert Simonds. A Columbia Pictures release.
"Slumdog Millionaire" Leads the Way
81st Academy Award Oscar Winners 2009
In much the same manner that the film captured the hearts of movie-goers, "Slumdog Millionaire" captured the hearts and votes of the Academy garnering 8 Oscars in total, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Adapted Screenplay.
Sean Penn won his second Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Harvey Milk in the movie "Milk," while Kate Winslett won her first Oscar in the Best Actress category for he role as Hanna Schmitz in "The Reader."
Heath Ledger won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the Joker in "The Dark Knight," posthumously. Ledger died on January 22, 2008 after an accidental drug overdose. Penelope Cruz won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Elena Maria in "Vicky Christina Barcelona."
"WALL-E" took home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature:
This year's top Academy Awards nominated film, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" with 13 Oscar nominations, won 3 Oscars (Achievement in Art Direction, Makeup & Visual Effects).
Recent Movie Reviews - Films in Theaters
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Michael Phillips reviews the Movie Fanboys
This comedy follows a quintet of Star Wars fanatics on a 1998 journey from Ohio to their Holy Grail: George Lucas Skywalker Ranch in California, where they hope to bust into the joint and sneak a look at a work print of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. It all should have been wilder and funnier. For a comedy of fanboy insanity to fly, it has to be a little less beholden to the pop-culture phenoms it is satirizing, however affectionately.
He's Just Not That Into You Movie Review
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The film adaptation of Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo's 2004 relationship-advice book is a sprawling, many-threaded series of stories, most of which contradict the book's advice about moving on when facing a lack of commitment. Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Scarlett Johansson, Drew Barrymore and Ben Affleck head the cast of this romantic comedy, which has some fun with its bubble-gum tone until a rash of ridiculous happy endings takes all the bite out of the premise
Pink Panther 2 Movie Review & Trailer
Michael Phillips reviews the Movie Pink Panther 2
This disposable Pink Panther sequel follows the 2006 remake and once again features Steve Martin as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. The cast (which also includes Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, John Cleese and Lily Tomlin) sprints way out ahead of the material. Most of it would work twice as well if the filmmakers had eased up and allowed the performers to interact -- to do their thing in medium shot, without a lot of pushy close-ups and overemphasis, so that their bodies might inform what their faces are up to.
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Psychic experiments started by the Nazis are being continued by the U.S. government, and so a telekinetic (Chris Evans) and a clairvoyant (Dakota Fanning) must recover a powerful experimental drug in the jam-packed streets of Hong Kong before a government agent (Djimon Hounsou) gets his hands on it. Director Paul McGuigan ("Lucky Number Slevin") has never been keen on plot logic, and that might be fine if his inscrutable film offered anything other than lush images of Hong Kong
Taken Movie Review
Michael Phillips reviews the Movie Taken
Liam Neeson plays a former CIA spook whose clandestine career bled into his home and led to a divorce. After traffickers kidnap his daughter in Europe, our hero has 96 hours to save her, and he wastes no time karate-chopping his way through every mime and baguette peddler in France.
The movie overheats quickly, but Neeson and the filmmakers manage to make the Charles Bronson-style simplicity work.
Renee Zellweger plays a hotshot Miami businesswoman whose firm assigns her to oversee a workforce reduction at a food-processing plant in New Ulm, Minn. Easygoing Harry Connick Jr. plays the union rep.
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After a stay in a psychiatric clinic, teenager Anna (Emily Browning) returns home, with her father (David Strathairn) now engaged to the caregiver (Elizabeth Banks) who oversaw Anna's invalid mother in her last days, before a fatal fire. Anna attempted suicide after the tragedy, and now she's plagued by visions, one of which appears to be her late mother, crying out for revenge.
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Academy Award Oscar Nomination for Best Foreign Film
An extraordinary achievement and a true visual feast, Ari Folman's animated "Waltz With Bashir" is a detective story as well as an moral inquiry into the specific horrors of one war (the 1982 Lebanon War), and one man's buried memories of it.
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