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'The Pink Panther 2'

'The Pink Panther 2" is somewhat less of a desecration of the memory of Peter Sellers than Steve Martin's first outing as the bumbling French detective. Martin still hasn't bothered to learn a faux French accent. The editing doesn't hide that even the simplest stunts are now done by fellows in snow-white wigs. But this family-friendly farce plays lighter than the first Martin "Panther," even if Martin himself still doesn't "get" what made the character funny.

The Magna Carta, the Shroud of Turin and a famous Japanese sword have been stolen by The Tornado. An international "dream team" - English ( Alfred Molina), Italian ( Andy Garcia, actually funny), Japanese (Yuki Matsuzaki) and Indian (Aishwarya Rai) - has been assembled to crack the case. They want the world's "greatest detective" onboard.

Our team travels to Rome to interview a suspect (an Oscar winner in a cameo) and the pope's ring is swiped right off his finger. Not to worry. Clouseau's powers of deduction - if not his tact or common sense - will triumph.

A few bits of physical comedy pay off and Martin's juggling skills come in handy for a (special-effects-assisted) accident with a wine rack. But Dutch director Harald Zwart ("Agent Cody Banks") gets less out of his star than his stuntmen.


PLOT An international dream team of sleuths, including Inspector Clouseau, tries to solve a rash of high-profile thefts.

STARS Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia


PLAYING AT Showtimes and tickets at area theaters

BOTTOM LINE Once again, Martin shows that he s no Peter Sellers.

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