There's something very satisfying—downright delightful, even—about seeing celebrated dramatic actors cutting up and engaging in sheer, just-for-the-heck-of-it silliness. Surely that's part of what makes the Ocean's franchise so appealing. The occasional Coen Brothers movie not withstanding, where else can mainstream movie audiences see the likes of George Clooney and Brad Pitt and Andy Garcia do something with no political undertones, no Oscar gold in sight—but something that's just good, silly fun?
That's also what makes The Pink Panther 2 work, at least relatively speaking. A significantly funnier, more enjoyable film than its predecessor, Steve Martin's second turn as Inspector Clouseau, the bumbling French detective made famous by the great Peter Sellers, benefits greatly from its cast of big-name actors, most of them known for their dignified, dramatic work in "serious" productions—actors like Alfred Molina, Jeremy Irons, and hey, there's Andy Garcia again. They're joined by John Cleese, Lily Tomlin, and a couple of holdovers from the last movie, Emily Mortimer and Jean Reno; Kevin Kline and Beyoncé do not reprise their roles from the first film. And then there's Aishwarya Rai, the biggest movie star in all of India, finally making herself known to U.S. audiences. This talented bunch spends just over 90 minutes cutting up and relishing the chance to do something that's just good, unpretentious fun, and their enthusiasm helps make this a better film than the much-maligned '06 edition.
There are other factors too, of course—Martin himself has been spending most of his time writing essays for The New Yorker and promoting his new bluegrass album, so it's nice to see him invest himself in ...1