Dabangg 2, a Bollywood action film that's also sometimes a comedy, is mostly likable thanks to its creators' preference for lighthearted mugging over self-serious teeth-gnashing. Pencil-mustachioed star Salman Khan returns as Chulbul Pandey, a super-heroic police officer and family man who is as virtuous as he is concrete-bustingly strong. After transferring to Kanpur, Pandey immediately finds himself at odds with Baccha (Prakash Raj), a local gangster/aspiring politician. Thankfully, whenever director Arbaaz Khan and screenwriter Dilip Shukla aren't praising Pandey's civic-mindedness and love of family, they're gently mocking his chest-thumping. It's a rare action film whose lead protagonist ruthlessly slams bad guys into pillars before taking out a life insurance policy. Khan is so hard to resist that he makes even the lamest jokes work. He almost makes palatable the two scenes of earnestly brutal violence, wherein Pandey kills bad guys and is ostensibly justified for doing so. These deaths stand out because they turn an otherwise sweet comedy into the dumb action flick its creators had heretofore tried not to make. Superior dance choreography and musical orchestration make the film's musical set pieces more satisfying than its Matrix-inspired fight scenes. Still, before they really screw up, Dabangg 2's creators do a good job of not taking themselves too seriously. Simon Abrams
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