Mr. Movie

'The Pink Panther 2' too funny

Typically, second movies are usually light-years inferior to the first.

Not so with The Pink Panther 2.

Steve Martin reprises the roll of detective Jacques Clouseau and his all-star co-star cast list includes Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Jean Reno, John Cleese, Jeremy Irons, Yuki Matsuzaki, Bollywood’s Aishwarya Rai and Emily Mortimer.

They have a blast sparring, spoofing and doing word play with Martin and each other. Nothing here is gut-busting, but you will catch yourself laughing out loud on occasion and completely entertained by the comedy.

By the way, if you’re tempted to pop up and refill the popcorn or hit the powder room, don’t do it during the scene at the Vatican. After the pontiff’s ring is stolen, a clueless Clouseau and the gang of detectives investigate. It is the funniest scene in a film full of them.

Another highlight is Martin and old friend/comedienne Lily Tomlin doing some spot-on politically incorrect bits on political correctness. By my count there have been 11 Pink Panther movies. Originally a main character in a Blake Edwards heist spoof, the late Peter Sellers played Inspector Jacques Clouseau five times. Some viewed Sellers as a genius.

Others—me included—didn’t find Sellers or his movies that funny. Comedian Steve Martin—modeling his interpretation of the character after Sellers—nearly put an end to a brilliant comedy career doing his vision of The Pink Panther.

It wound up on lots of worst of the year lists in 2006.

Though it isn’t likely to end up on anyone’s best list, after a long week of financial worries, children worries, job worries, The Pink Panther 2 hits all the right notes and is an excellent 90-minute escape. Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG for mature themes. It opens Friday, Feb. 6 at the Columbia Mall 8 and at Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.