Pink panther remake flops; Curious George makes an endearing silver-screen debut; the Jerusalem Cinematheque pulls gems out of the archives.

hannah brown 88 (photo credit: )
hannah brown 88
(photo credit: )
Many of those who have fond memories of the original Pink Panther series starring the brilliant Peter Sellers as the linguistically challenged Inspector Clouseau were intrigued to learn that Steve Martin would be taking over the role in a remake. There have been other "Pink Panther" films following Sellers' death, in which the plots were similar but Inspector Clouseau was not present, and these were resounding flops. But while the critics have some kind words for Martin, they dismiss the movie as ill-conceived, clumsily executed and, worst of all, generally unfunny. Kyle Smith of the New York Post says the casting of Martin "in a script he co-wrote ... occasionally works and has a handful of great moments." But he dismisses the movie as "one puny puma. Comedy ain't baseball; three funny jokes out of 10 doesn't cut it," an opinion most critics shared. Oh, well. PARENTS WHO are desperately searching for movies that their young children can enjoy will be cheered to learn that the Curious George movie, which just opened last week, has received mostly good notices. Claudia Puig, in USA Today, writes, "The movie, particularly the endearing George, should appeal to young children, and the humor should elicit a few chuckles among their parents as well." It's an animated film that stays very faithful to the charming illustrations in the original. Will Ferrell voices the character of the Man in the Yellow Hat and Drew Barrymore is an art teacher, but George is silent, as he is in the books. IN AN UNUSUAL MOVE this month, the Jerusalem Cinematheque is spotlighting a television series, Therapy (in Hebrew, B'Tipul). In this enormously popular show, Assi Dayan played a therapist who saw a different patient in each episode, aired on consecutive nights, and once a week consulted with his supervisor, played by Gila Almagor. Some of Israel's top actors played the patients, including Ayelet Zurer (who can be seen in cinemas as the main character's wife in Steven Spielberg's Munich), Lior Ashkenazi (Walk on Water), and Maya Meron (Broken Wings). It's been running throughout the month and five more episodes will be shown back to back starting Friday at 2 p.m. EVERY NOW AND THEN the Jerusalem Cinematheque pulls a film out of its archives that is a must-see for film buffs, even if you've already watched it on TV or video. So head for screening of Preston Sturges' tragi-comic classic, Sullivan's Travels (1941), on Monday at 9:30 p.m. This brilliantly conceived, wonderfully acted and original movie is, like most of Sturges' films, oddly contemporary. It has influenced generations of filmmakers, most notably the Coen brothers, who referenced it in their 2000 film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, a title that was taken from a fictitious movie mentioned in the film. Sullivan stars Joel McCrea as John Sullivan, a wildly successful film director from a patrician background who has made his name directing silly, slapstick comedies with titles like, Ants in Your Pants. He longs to make a serious film that will spotlight the plight of the poor (the title he chooses for his fictional magnum opus is O Brother, Where Art Thou?) but realizes he must go out and live in the world of the poor before he can make a convincing film. On the road, he runs into Veronica Lake, a would-be starlet on her way back to her hometown, who agrees to be his guide to the tough side of life. Through a series of mishaps, he runs afoul of the law and ends up on a chain gang, where no one believes he is actually a famous director. It features Sturges' trademark wry humor and blend of the serious and comic, as well as his unrivalled stock company of Hollywood's finest character actors, including Eric Blore, Franklin Pangborn, William Demarest and Jimmy Conlin. If you see it, you'll be amazed at how much more sophisticated and witty the dialogue is than what passes for comedy today. OSCAR SEASON continues and almost all the top nominees have opened here, most recently Walk the Line, which is nominated for major acting awards. On Thursday, TransAmerica, the road movie that stars Felicity (Desperate Housewives) Huffman as a transsexual bonding with the son she/he never knew before, will open throughout Israel. Oscar watchers are saying that Huffman and Reese Witherspoon, star of Walk the Line, are the two strongest Best Actress candidates.