The Pink Panther

The Pink Panther


Reviewed by: Scott Davis

This new "re-imagining" of The Pink Panther, Blake Edwards' most famous creature, presents us with a new Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin), who returns to run amock during investigations into murders, theft and big Pink cats.

In the new story, despite years of mishaps and calamities, the bumbling Frenchman is upgraded from local flic to inspector for the first time, sent to investigate the murder of the French football manager and the disappearance of the famous Pink Panther diamond. This, of course, leads Clouseau and new all French partner Ponton (Jean Reno) into various different escapades as they try to hunt down the killer, as well as keep out of the way of the watchful police commissioner, Inspector Dreyfuss (Kevin Kline).

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Director Shawn Levy, who brought us the ghastly Just Married, does little to erase the memory of that film here or, indeed, the first Cheaper By The Dozen. Though he captures the beautiful city of Paris well enough, bringing to the screen its rich architecture and luscious cityscapes, his handling of the comedy set pieces seems lazy, as if lacking energy and spontaneity and the sort of zip and dynamism you would expect from this kind of physical situational comedy.

It's not all Levy's fault, mind you, as the script, co-written by Martin, does let itself down with the usual inclusion of toilet humour and crudeness to satisfy a modern, dumbed down audience, as fart jokes tend to encourage the ringing of cash tills, especially in North America.

Still, it's not all bad, and the film still has its surprises with some very funny moments, from a hilarious scene involving "stealth" like disguises to Clouseau struggling to learn "flawless" English. In addition, the writers have fun acclimatising Clouseau to the 21st century and the world of the World Wide Web, Viagra and terrorism, which naturally add their own comedic possibilities.

Coming off what some might say has been a disastrous run of form, Martin gives his best performance for years, very much the Wild & Crazy guy of old, from The Man With Two Brains and All Of Me, showing once again what he's made of, as he prances, minces, bounds and swaggers through the film, bringing his own unique brand of comedy to this illustrious character, as well as a very good French accent. Sure, he's no [actor]Peter Sellers[/actor], but then he never pretends to be.

He is well supported by Reno, who enjoys an excellent rapport with Martin, even if he isn't given much to do, other than write down clues and look stern. The big disappointment is Kline, who should have made the perfect foil for Clouseau. As it is, he sleepwalks through the script, providing Dreyfuss with none of his usual comedic touches. There are some nice turns from Emily Mortimer and Beyonce Knowles, although their main purpose for being here is to look great and add essential cleavage.

On the whole, the new version of The Pink Panther comes out better than I had expected. Although some elements don't work too well, namely the lacklustre, almost prosaic direction of Levy, it survives with a lot of positives, not least the return to maniacal form of its star, The Grey Haired One.

All in all, The Pink Panther is a fun Saturday night at the movies.

Reviewed on: 17 Mar 2006
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Steve Martin attempts to emulate Peter Sellers as incompetent French policeman.
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Kotleta *

Director: Shawn Levy

Writer: Len Blum, Steve Martin

Starring: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Henry Czerny, William Abadie

Year: 2006

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


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