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What ever happened to Sweet Baby Steve?
by Lance Norris

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Scariest part of the new Star Wars Movie? The trailer for the new Pink Panther movie they showed before it started.

Why would anyone try to re imagine The Pink Panther? The same reason Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers kept making them over and over again, I guess. To make money. But Sony just got a look at the new Steve Martin/Shawn Levy prequel to the Panther franchise and pulled it from Summer release and shelved it until February 10th of next year. I'm going to go out on limb and say it's not because they wanted it fresh in Oscar voter's minds. Mike Myers, thankfully, turned the project down. The same for Jackie Chan and Kevin Spacey. Ivan Reitman was going to direct, with Chris Tucker as Clouseau, but got scared when he found out he had signed Tucker and not Chris Rock. What did Steve Martin see that they didn't, or vise versa? At least when former "Soap" star Ted Wass or that Italian freak Benigni tried to jack with the franchise they had the presence of mind to play a character with a different name. Alan Arkin played Clouseau in 1968, but he had just played Harry Roat in "Wait Until Dark" and might have still been mentally unstable. Arkin's Clouseau left such a bad taste in the collective mouth of movie goers and the studio, it would be another seven years before they made another Pink Panther movie (wisely re teaming Sellers with Blake Edwards).

Steve Martin is not only playing Inspector Jacques Clouseau, he has written the script (with Len Blum, the guy responsible for "Meatballs III: Summer Job"). What could Martin be thinking? He hasn't written anything funny for the movies since "The Man With Two Brains" and that was 23 years ago. Here's the problem: people keep telling him that movies like "Cheaper By The Dozen" and "Bringing Down The House" are great (they are even in production as we speak of "Cheaper By The Dozen II"), and if enough people lie to you that something is good, you start to believe them. Hell, enough people told Renee Zellweger-Chesney she was pretty and she got sucked in too. Someone made the mistake of telling that poorly drawn stick figure Paris Hilton she was sexy and now we have to watch her eat a burger while washing the car. You know why she has to wash the car? Because the bulimic freak threw up all over the car after she finished the burger.

You'd like to think that Steve Martin was above the hype because he was so funny back in the 70's. "The Jerk", "Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid", heck, he and Aerosmith are the only watchable things in "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", but then "All Of Me" happened and he started to take himself seriously. He even tried to become the west coast's Woody Allen with "L.A. Story" but by then, it was too late.

For every "My Blue Heaven" there was a "Sgt. Bilko". For every "Planes, Trains & Automobiles" there was a "Mixed Nuts". For every hosting stint on Saturday Night Live there was an episode of Van Dyke and Company and for every Bernadette Peters there was an Anne Heche.

What ever could have possessed Steve Martin to insult the memory of one of cinema's most beloved characters? Ego? Ignorance? Just a well intentioned mistake? Nope. Sony paid him 17.5 million for the project. It's a heck of a lot easier to swallow you pride when it's wrapped in 17,500,000 one dollar bills. That's something even Paris Hilton wouldn't choke back up.

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Ask a Bitter Man
Every Thursday

Lance Norris gives us his opinions on the state of film, vents about Hollywood, and generally lets his thoughts fly.

Other Columns
Other columns by Lance Norris:

Later On Croutons

Mutants On Parade 11/12/09

Mutants On Parade 11/5/09

Mutants On Parade 10/29/09

Mutants On Parade 10/21/09

All Columns

Lance Norris
Lance Norris, dubbed "Boston's only straight Film Critic" reviews movies for WZLX in Boston.

He has two books entitled Ask A Bitter Man: The Best of 1984 - 1999 Vol. 1 and I've Seen Better Film On The Teeth of Wolverines. which you can buy here

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Lance Norris by clicking here.

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