Growing up, Steve Martin was my favorite comedic actor, no contest. The Jerk, All of Me, The Man With Two Brains, Three Amigos!, Little Shop of Horrors, Roxanne, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Parenthood, LA Story, Father of the Bride, Bowfinger...you'd be hard pressed to find someone who's appeared in as many modern classic comedies. And he's obviously still a hilarious man (anyone see him on Letterman last night?). That is why his recent career path is so troubling to me. I can't fault the guy for wanting to make big lazy blockbuster family movies, and obviously there are people who enjoy them. I just wish that one of the greatest comedic minds in film history would take some more chances in his twilight years. I love his novels (read The Pleasure of My Company ASAP), and I adored the film version of Shopgirl, I sincerely hope he can bring us more interesting material like that.

But for right now, we're stuck with Pink Panther 2. Variety has announced the supporting cast, and I must say, it's pretty impressive. The great John Cleese is playing Inspector Dreyfus (perfect casting), memorably brought to life by Herbert Lom in the Peter Sellers films. Also on board are Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, and "The Queen of Bollywood" Aishwarya Rai, often referred to as "The Most Beautiful Woman in the World." The three will play "detectives and experts who join forces with Clouseau to catch the thief who has been stealing artifacts around the world." In addition to the new gang, Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer are returning to their roles. Pink Panther 2 was written by no less than five screenwriters: first-timers Scott Neustadter and Mike Weber, big-time comedy scribes Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel (Splash, Parenthood, City Slickers), and Martin himself. Shawn Levy directed the 2006 Pink Panther, Harald Zwart (One Night at McCool's, Agent Cody Banks) will helm this one. Look for Pink Panther 2 just in time for Valentine's Day -- February 13, 2009.