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February 11, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-02-11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 - 5A

a cat-astrophe
By BLAKE GOBLE Tomlin ("A Prairie Home Com-
Daily Arts Writer panion") spends most of her time
in the film serving up racy jokes
In his newest adventure, for Martin. And yes, Martin dress-
Jacques Clouseau (Steve Mar- ing up like the Pope is abonus. But
tin) is forced to this movie still needed to restrain
masquerade as a * itself in order to keep its PG-13 rat-
Spanish dancer ing, and as a result, there's little of
flailing in span- The Pink the freedom or spirit of the origi-
dex at an inau- nals in "Panther 2."
thentic Roman Blake Edwards (co-creator of
restaurant. The At Showcase the "Panther" movies) and Peter
joke is there: and Quality16 Sellers worked on almost all of
While trying to MGM/Columbia the originals, and they created a
covertly swap perfect blend of locales, lunacy
a secret micro- and laugh-out-loud gags. The new
phone from one table to another, "Panther" movies - especially
he ends up making an ass out of this one - only achieve one of
himself and lighting the place on those three traits. The locations
fire. No surprises there. are bovine and the humor sporad-
But something ruins the joke. ic. Martin just slips by as his own
Sure, the premise of the gag is version of Clouseau. It tries to be
kind of funny, and it's obviously like the classic, but can't when it's

Demetri Martin: World's most intimidating spelling bee moderator.

Comedy with a point

Following in the footsteps
of other 'Daily Show' alums,
Demetri Martin scores
with a series of his own
For theDaily
Besides being Jon Stewart's regular out-
let for venting, "The Daily
Show" has doubled as a
comedy farm team of sorts,
launching the careers of for- Important
mer contributors like "The
Office" cast members Steve Things With
Carell and Ed Helms, along Demetri
with Stephen Colbert ("The ml
Colbert Report"). Come-
dian Demetri Martin, an Wednesdays
occasional correspondent at10:30 p.m.
for "The Daily Show," is the
latest in this storied tradi- Cmedy Cetral
tion of solo jaunts with his
new Comedy Central show "Important Things
With Demetri Martin."
"Important Things" builds from the stan-
dard variety-show playbook: Each episode

revolves around a specific, esoteric theme
- the first two episodes focus on "Tim-
ing" and "Power" - that Martin explores
through traditional stand-up comedy, songs
and sketches. The show's format is nothing
unique, but Martin makes the most of its nar-
row restraints.
Visually, "Important Things" borrows a
lot of its cues from Martin's stand-up, and it's
easy to see his influence in the show's mini-
malist style. To cut between scenes, the show
uses footage of Martin holding a remote made
out of paper backed by "Juno"-like musi-
cal cues. Arbitrary captions - like one that
labels Martin as "Demetri Martin: Person"
- are also common. While the show's visuals
can border on obnoxiously quaint, it manages
to moderate itself enough to avoid becoming
too grating.
Predictably, one of the show's greatest
strengths is Martin's solo comedy. His dead-
pan demeanor translates well, and his one-
liners ("I wonder if there were any Goths in
Gothic times"), drawings and songs are just
as sharp. The show's quick pace also keeps all
these segments in check. Hopping between
longer sketches, stand-up and shorter inter-
stitial bits, the show tries to avoid sitting on
any gag for longer than it needs to, keeping it
from dragging.

The show's sketches aren't anywhere as
consistent, though. Martin's skills as an
actor are limited, and having him anchor the
sketches, which make up the bulk of the show,
doesn't work nearly as well as it should. One
sketch in the first episode, in which Martin
plays an actor with bad timing who can't get
angry when he needs to, has some potential in
its premise. But, with Martin's inexperience
as an actor, the sketch never really finds its
Still, not all of the sketches require the
most from Martin, and the ones that put the
premise ahead of the comedian himself tend
to work best. The sketches that make the most
of Martin's absurd brand of humor - like one
that features Martin as a time-traveling jani-
tor who romances various historical figures -
tend to work best.
In the post-"Daily Show" career qual-
ity barometer, "Important Things" falls more
toward Colbert's critical success than Lewis
Black's ("Lewis Black's Root of All Evil")
inconsistency. It gives viewers something
that's reflective of Martin's best qualities with-
out watering his act down for public consump-
tion. It's not always as polished as it should
and could be, but the strength of Martin and
his material makes "Important Things" a wor-
thy addition to the Comedy Central lineup.

not meant to be plausible or make
any sense. But the scene plays out
squeaky-clean, well-lit and overly
childish, and its humor is ruined
by the poor staging: It turns out
he's in Epcot, not Rome! This stag-
ing problem is what's ultimately
wrong with "The Pink Panther 2,"
the latest Martin-led pillaging of
the Peter Sellers legacy.
"Pink Panther 2," the sequel to
the 2006 Pink Panther re-start
that also featured Martin, plays
like a series of decent jokes ruined
by amateur directing. Martin is a
hysterical guy - aside from Sell-
ers, only he can get away with
tossing wine-bottles, racist jokes
and bad French accents. It's just
that Martin is stuck in another
chintzy mystery-comedy, and it's
holding him back.
ous thiefknownas the Tornado has
stolen rare artifacts and the "Pink
Panther diamond." In an effort
to catch the crook, a dream team
of investigators is assembled and,
of course, the clodhopping Clou-
seau's in on it. Why? Because it's
funny, right? Clouseau proceeds to
annoy Andy Garcia ("Ocean's Thir-
teen") and John Cleese ("Shrek the
Third"). Hilarious.
But that's it. At 92 minutes and
filled with about a dozen decent
jokes, "Pink Panther 2" is could-

Watch Steve
Martin tarnish
the legacy of
Peter Sellers.
dumbed way down.
Still, Steve Martin's legacy is
pretty much secure, like it or not.
The typical complaint about the
once wild-and-crazy guy is that
he's become a sell-out. "Bring-
ing Down the House," "Looney
Tunes: Back in Action" and the
"Cheaper by the Dozen" films
are sufficient evidence to argue
that point. But that doesn't mean
Martin was any less funny in
those flicks. Dirty old man jokes
are always funny, even in a rehash
for tots.
Granted, Martin's a witty guy,
and well-played gags are always
welcome. Look for the "no ogling"
gag with Tomlin in this one.
But beware when Clouseau falls
through three flights of chimneys.
Or better yet, just watch the
originals instead. Blake Edwards
got it right a long time ago. Five

Animal Planet beats a dead horse

DailyArts Writer
Who doesn't want to travel the
world and ride horses for a living?
Thoroughbred racing has been
the wealthy man's pastime for
the past century
and is consid-
ered by some to
be among the Jckys
classiest orga-
nized sports. So Fridays at
it's natural to 9 P.M.
assume jockeys Animal Planet
are sophisti-
cated men with
adventurous lifestyles and easy
jobs. Animal Planet's "Jockeys"
aims to debunk these myths by
offering a glimpse into the harsh
reality of the profession. Unfortu-
nately, the myths are more enter-
taining than the truth.
"Jockeys" is filmed documen-
tary-style, following seven pro-
fessional jockeys through their
successes and failures. The show
focuses mostly on Joe Talamo,
the arrogant young gun; Aus-

tralian newcomer Kayla Stra,
the undiscovered talent; Jockey
Hall of Famer Mike Smith, who
is determined to stay on top; and
his girlfriend, Chantal Suther-
land, a successful jockey in Cana-
da who is trying to break into the
tougher, male-dominated Ameri-
can circuit.
Apparently, being a jockey
doesn't just consist of sitting on
a horse, steering it every once in
awhile and hoping it's fast enough.
"Jockeys" makes sure to clarify
the fact that these professionals
are skilled athletes and racing is
an extremely dangerous sport.
The opening credits of "Jockeys"
prepares audiences for a thrill-
ing and action-packed view of a
treacherous profession, featuring
majestic shots of sprinting horses
and dramatic silhouettes of jock-
eys. To top it off, Kanye West's
"Stronger" is used as the theme
song. It quickly becomes clear,
however, that "Jockeys" consists
mostly of lengthy interviews. All
the promised action is contained
within a single race, which is over

in one m
ish, adv
are onl'
just a sr
they dot
relies or
win to it
ttres. T

ainute. begin competing against each
,jockeys also don'tlivelav- other, and it won't be long until
enturous lifestyles. They the veterans need an outlet for
y paid the big bucks for the frustration the overconfident
a race, and they receive Talamo is causing. "Jockeys"
sail fee for their efforts if uses the little suspense horse rac-
ing has to offer to its advantage,
leaving some serious cliffhang-
ers at the end of each episode.
n't place any The premiere episode ended with
a jockey falling from his horse in
ets on this a race, but the show did not iden-
.u v n tify who fell. So if nothing else,
)w surviving "Jockeys" at least has compelling
t th s se son. cliffhangers.
t this season. cli ae Planet advertised
"Jockeys" as a gripping documen-
tary series, which created high
expectations. to actuality, the
n't finish in first. The show show lacks any real excitement,
n the crucial incentive to leaving viewers with a boring and
ncrease the drama, but the disappointing half hour. "Jock-
is on jockeys' monetary eys" would do better as a longer
s is just depressing and TV special since it doesn't con-
rnt. tain enough content to warrant
the show seems to be an entire series. Viewers looking
to more promising pas- for suspense and drama in horse
he relationship between racing would be better off rent-
and and Smith becomes ing "Seabiscuit" than tuning into
ngly strained when they "Jockeys" on a weekly basis.


Go to michigandaily.com/section/arts
for some more fun for the whole family.
Make sure to thank Al Gore.


EP Review
o From strength to boredom
Wild Years
Where'd You Go
Where'd You Go is a new three-song EP of
folk ballads by Wild Years, a talented group of
Ann Arbor musicians. On the first track, "Fan-
tasies," frontman Alex Itkin sings about the
desire to fall in love and the sorrow brought
about by being alone. The song starts sim-
ply enough with gentle guitar picking and an

understated drum beat perfect for foot-tapping.
About halfway through, Itkin sheds the skin of
the solitary man and morphs into a small choir
thanks to multi-tracking. The addition ofbanjo,
mandolin and violin propels "Fantasies" into
its gripping chorus. It's a peaceful explosion
capable of raising goose bumps and demanding
repeat listens.
The next track, "I'm Not Coming Out," is a
slight disappointment after the pleasant con-
tagiousness of "Fantasies." Itkin's voice is a
little too echoey, overpowering the instru-
ments. Reverb effect works well in the chorus,
but during the verses it makes Itkin seem like
he's bored - his voice doesn't change in pitch
and there's no emotion to carry the lyrics. It's

not terrible, but it relies on overproduction as a
crutch to make up for the lack of variation.
"Untitled (Band-aid)" follows, bringing the
EP to an unimpressive end. The song begins
with a tame "1, 2, 3, 4" and dissonant violin,
giving it a haunted old country feel. The gui-
tar plays softly as Itkin begins to sing. The lyr-
ics are dull and cliche, staggering along with
lines like, "Snowballs melting in this hot sum-
mer weather." Itkin sounds bored again,.and it
quickly gets repetitive.
Where'd You Go is a good effort, but the last
two songs have a sense of indifference that
puts a damper on the whole affair. Fortunately,
"Fantasies" makes the EP worth a listen with
its sticky, head-nodding goodness.

- UARTS 250 -
residency at the Abbey of Pontlevoy,
May 18 - June 12, 2009
Four Weeks/Four Credits
Sat es the LSA Creative Expression Requirement
Tuesday, Febr ry 17,5:00pm,Art & Architecture Bldg. Room
Wednes y, Feb 18, 7:00pm, Michigan Union Pond Room
Making cre vity an integral part of students'lives and work.
Learn more now: www.artsonearth.org/students
in ngan TS
This course is supported by the University of Michigan's Multidisciplinary Learning and Team Teaching Initiative

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