PINK PANTHER 2
**1/2 (out of 5)
February 6, 2009
Steve Martin as INSPECTOR JACQUES CLOUSEAU
Jean Reno as GENDARME GILBERT PONTON
Emily Mortimer as NICOLE
John Cleese as CHIEF INSPECTOR DREYFUS
Andy Garcia as VINCENZO
Alfred Molina as PEPPERIDGE
Yuki Matsuzaki as KENJI
Aishwarya Rai Bachchan as SONIA
Lily Tomlin as MRS. BERENGER
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Directed by: Harald Zwart
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Almost exactly three years ago, critics around the world gave a near-unanimous groan when they saw Steve Martin’s reboot of “The Pink Panther.” While the film garnered many negative reviews, I was in the minority by finding the film cute and funny. It wasn’t comedic genius, but I had to admit that it made me laugh.
Perhaps it was a product of being lost in the rather stuffy films of award season. As bad as January and February releases are, it’s a nice diversion to see a film with fart jokes and slapstick comedy.
More likely, it is the fact that sometimes I like my movies the way I like a stack of White Castle hamburgers at 4 a.m. They’re not good in the traditional sense. In fact, they’re not good for you at all. But when it comes to fast food cinema, I like a steaming pile of junk now and then. That’s why I had a soft spot for the first “Pink Panther” from 2006.
Having seen many the original “Pink Panther” movies when I was a kid in the 70s and 80s, I still had an appreciation for these Blake Edwards classics. However, I also remember that they weren’t untouchable films. Sure, they starred a legend – Peter Sellers. And sure, they had an irreverent humor about them. But they were still the cinematic fast food of the day.
And considering what colossal flops “The Curse of the Pink Panther” and “Son of the Pink Panther” were when they tried to continue the story without Peter Sellers as the bumbling detective, I respect the fact that Steve Martin made his own Inspector Clouseau rather than giving us a pale imitation. It’s not better than Sellers’ Clouseau. Heck, it’s not even as good. But it is unique and suits Steve Martin well.
With all that said, I will say that “The Pink Panther 2” is not as good as the first one. Take that as a way to gauge this film for your own tastes.
In other words, if you thought “The Pink Panther” was comedic genius, you will probably really like this one too. If you though the first film was funny but not awesome, you might get a kick out of this one. If the first was barely watchable to you, you’ll want to run screaming from the theater on this one.
This film follows Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Martin) as he’s brought in to lead a top-notch investigation of the theft of priceless artifacts, including the legendary Pink Panther diamond. Of course, he botches much of the investigation and puts himself, his team and the diamond in great peril. But it’s funny… at least at times it is.
The story does fall apart at several points in the film, reducing itself to an excuse for gags, and the filmmakers didn’t utilize Jean Reno as much as they could have. But the goofy stunts and physical gags save the film. And with a shockingly good pedigree of actors (including Jeremy Irons in a bit part), the movie works at times. Of course, when it doesn’t work, it is rather dreadful.
Ultimately, for mindless comedy, “The Pink Panther 2” could be a lot worse. I took my kids, who loved the first film, and we all found ourselves laughing at many parts.
It’s also nice to see that John Cleese is getting work, as he replaced Kevin Kline as the Clouseau-hating Dreyfuss. If only he could do a French accent. Seriously, who does he think he is? Tom Cruise?