Film Friday: ‘Pink Panther 2’ & ‘Coraline’

by W. Andrew Powell

The Pink Panther 2

Steve Martin in The Pink Panther 2

Even if you liked Steve Martin in the Pink Panther remake, can he make the role more interesting the second time around? This week in theatres, Martin returns as Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther 2. Also debuting this week, Neil Gaiman‘s Coraline makes its 3D debut, the self-help book He’s Just Not That Into You gets a fictional reimagining, and lastly, the terrible tale of the Montreal Massacre is told in Polytechnique.

The Pink Panther 2
From the director of Agent Cody Banks, Agent Cody Banks 2, and One Night at McCool’s comes the sequel that should never have been made.

Steve Martin stars, once again, as the ever-bumbling Inspector Clouseau, who is sent away on a “vacation” in France just as the Pink Panther diamond is stolen for a second time. Leading a team of equally inept experts, Clouseau must track down the master criminal before he makes off with more treasures.

Although Martin is an unmistakable comedic talent, even when he’s slumming it in films like this, it seems like he has really reached a new low. Even in some of his worst film choices, like Cheaper by the Dozen, there was a feeling that Martin still had a lot of great work ahead of him.

After Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and the first Pink Panther, it’s getting a bit hard to believe he’s not stuck in a smoking, burning wreck of a career nose-dive.

Katey Rich of Cinema Blend sums it up best when she called Pink Panther 2 a “dull and obvious comedy that either squanders the talent of its cast or leaves them to founder within the scrambled and episodic screenplay.”

In all the world there are few writers who I admire more than Neil Gaiman (aside from Terry Pratchett). Gaiman’s stories are consistently intense, moving, and all-together spellbinding in a world of what I can only call mostly mundane.

In this stop-motion animated feature, which is based on Gaiman’s Hugo and Nebula award-winning novella, Dakota Fanning voices the part of Coraline, a young girl looking for adventure in what she considers her otherwise dull life. When she discovers a special door, which opens into a parallel world where life is exciting, Coraline may have bitten off more than she can chew.

Directed by Henry Selick, who also brought The Nightmare Before Christmas to the big screen, this is easily my big pick for the week.

Critics are giving Coraline top marks for style, story, and charm. “Eerily inhabiting the netherworld where a young girl’s wildest dreams become her cruelest nightmares, Coraline is a dark delight,” wrote Justin Chang of Variety.

He’s Just Not That Into You
You can hardly make this kind of thing up, but since when does a self-help book make for a good movie?

With it’s catchy, although overly long title, He’s Just Not That Into You is based on Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo’s book of the same name, which promises “The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys.” Including a definite all-star cast, the film peers into the lives of twenty- and thirty-something women trying to figure out the men in their lives.

Starring Jennifer Aniston, Ben Affleck, Drew Barrymore, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Connelly, and Justin Long, the film is a definite girly-flick, which could be a hard sell for anyone but the ladies.

“There’s not much here for men,” wrote Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter, “or for that matter, women who understand that the complexity of human relationships doesn’t reduce to catchphrases.”

Mike Goodridge of Screen International was a bit more positive, calling the film, “an intermittently engaging ensemble which outstays its welcome but contains some peppy performances and amusing observations.”

Finally, I wanted to mention one Canadian release this week, which may be a bit hard to find, but deserves a note.

Director Denis Villeneuve brings the challenging film Polytechnique to select screens this week, telling the horrific story of the 1989 Montreal Massacre in which a young man killed 14 women on the campus of Montreal’s Polytechnique.

The topic is a tough one, and some critics are calling the film needlessly sensational for a topic that deserves respect, but there is no true consensus yet.

Coming next week, February 13:
Confessions Of A Shopaholic
Friday The 13th
The International

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