Brian M. Raftery
June 28, 2002 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Hollywood casts the movies, and we cast doubt. Here’s our assessment of some recently reported role calls. — Brian M. Raftery

FILM The Pink Panther returns under director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters). STAR High-pitched (and high-paid) motormouth Chris Tucker as bumbling Inspector Clouseau. VERDICT He’s done French farce before — in Luc Besson’s 1997 The Fifth Element — but Tucker will have to tone it down to play this breed of cool cat. B-

FILM Untitled biopic of suicidal poet Sylvia Plath. STAR Jarring belle Gwyneth Paltrow. VERDICT After essaying writers in The Royal Tenenbaums and the upcoming Possession, the oft-pouty Paltrow seems word-perfect to play literature’s most vexed verse vixen. This one will be like Star Wars for sullen 14-year-old girls everywhere. A

FILM CBS’ biopic of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. STAR Jeremy Northam (Gosford Park) as the stick-swizzling singer. VERDICT With a properly cocked eyebrow, a tuxed Northam could be a ring-a-ding dead ringer — and balance manic Sean Hayes (Will & Grace) as Lewis. Just don’t warble ”That’s Amore” with a British accent. B+

FILM A John Woo-produced update on the justly antiquated Charlie Chan detective series. STAR Charlie girl Lucy Liu, playing Chan’s crime-solving granddaughter. VERDICT Confucius say: Why bring back Chan? And despite the gender spin, the biggest unsolved mystery may be whether Liu can carry a picture all by herself. B

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