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The Pink Panther 2 (A Movie Review)

The Pink Panther 2


Starring Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, Yuki Matsuzaki, Alfred Molina, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, John Cleese, Andria Blackman, Zofia Borucka, Lily Tomlin and Jeremy Irons.

Screenplay by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber and Steve Martin.

Directed by Harold Zwart.

Distributed by Columbia Pictures. 92 minutes. Rated PG.

There was no reason for The Pink Panther 2 to have ever been made. Granted, to a certain extent it was true about the 2006 reboot of the long-past-it’s-sell-by-date franchise, but while no one could ever call that movie a good one, it was rather amusing and became a minor success.

The Pink Panther 2 really has very little to add to it, so the new movie is essentially a re-run of the earlier film. Again, it is sometimes amusing, sometimes stupid, but the returns are significantly less this time around. Also, frankly, the recent remake itself was a poor substitute for the Peter Sellers originals.

However, The Pink Panther 2 is targeted for kids – for whom the three year old film is way too old, so there is no way they are going to watch one that is 45 years old. Therefore, instead of making the kiddies pull out the last DVD, here is a new one to be watched, somewhat enjoyed and promptly forgotten.

Once again Steve Martin does his best in the role, though it feels like an awkward fit for him. Martin is brilliant in the slapstick comedy that is the film’s bread and butter, but essentially, he seems too smart for the role and thus is trying a little too hard. Peter Sellers was too smart, too, though his Inspector Clouseau may have been overmatched, but he had a humanity that this new version lacks.

The story – what little of one there is – has Clouseau leading an international “dream team” of detectives – an Italian lothario (Andy Garcia), a deductive Brit (Alfred Molina), a tech-savvy Japanese detective (Yuki Matsuzaki) and a gorgeous lady detective who just happens to be the foremost living expert on their quarry (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan). 

The dream team is searching for an international cat burglar named The Tornado, who is stealing artifacts like the shroud of Turin, the pope’s ring, the magna carta, the Japanese Emperor’s sword, and of course The Pink Panther diamond. (This diamond has been stolen so often over the years now, it’s shocking it isn’t buried in an armed vault somewhere.) 

Cue many dumb pratfalls, a ridiculous imagined love triangle over the affections of Clouseau’s assistant (Emily Mortimer), an awkward extended cameo by Martin’s old friend and All of Me co-star Lily Tomlin and a “twist” ending that renders the preceding fifteen or so minutes of the movie entirely irrelevant, if not completely absurd. 

John Cleese takes over the role of Dreyfus, Clouseau’s boss and nemesis, from his old Fish Called Wanda co-star Kevin Kline, who did not return for this sequel. Unlike Kline, Cleese doesn’t even attempt to do a French accent. So suddenly somehow since the last film, Chief Inspector Dreyfus has aged about 15-20 years and become British. On the plus side, Cleese is in prime form, channeling earlier characters such as Basil Fawlty. I just wish he were given more to do, because he is funnier than anyone else on screen.

Well, not quite anyone. The animated pink panther in the credits is still incredibly cool. It’s never a good sign when the most amusing part of a movie is the cartoon over the opening credits. 

Alex Diamond

Copyright ©2009 All rights reserved. Posted: June 13, 2009.


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