"The Pink Panther" returns to the big screen more than forty years after the original and almost twenty-five since the last sequel, and if only the wait could be longer. This new version, starring Steve Martin as the idiot Inspector Jacques Clouseau, is dazzled up and more Americanized, and less funny and dumber than before.
Blame cannot really fall on Martin, other than that he should have known what would happen. After all, what do you expect when you try to remake a classic comedy that not only still holds up today but that also features an actor and character so engrained in people's minds? People are going to compare this version to the old version starring Peter Sellars, and they are going to be just about unanimous - the original was funnier, wittier and belonged to Peter Sellars.
Martin is not particularly bad in any way or form; he's just not as good as his equally famous counterpart. Martin gives it his all and succeeds on a few occasions, especially with scenes revolving around his inability to talk well. The speech therapist sequence is pretty humorous, as is a scene where Clouseau attempts to sign up for a new phone company and has to spell out his name out loud.
Unfortunately, Martin is hampered by an inconsistent script and comedy that is more inane and forced than it was in the original. Director Shawn Levy, who is responsible for such classics as "Cheaper by the Dozen" (also starring Martin), "Just Married" and "Big Fat Liar," (do you note my sarcasm?), pushes the slapstick comedy just about five percent too far. When he should be attempting to get real laughs, he resorts to fart jokes and other such things that have been done countless times before.
The movie also lays on the sappiness a little bit too much, as there is a sequence where Clouseau realizes the truth and feels all sad, and a scene where he gets the girl, and other tidbits that just weren't necessary.
Casting is also a bit weak, even though the actors involved are all quiet talented. While Clive Owen's cameo is slightly humorous if not completely out of place, Kevin Kline is all but wasted as the Chief Inspector, and Jean Reno isn't given much to work with either. Emily Mortimer as the love interest also does not seem to fit in this kind of movie. Jason Straitham is killed off within the first five minutes of the movie, and then there's Beyonce... I mean, holy crap. I don't know what it is about Beyonce, as she's absolutely beautiful and seductive, but I just cannot stand her. Maybe it's because I'm not a big fan of her music, but more so she just looks fake. And no, I don't mean plastic surgery fake, but rather always-trying-to-look-perfect fake. She's always smiling, and she's always Beyonce. Why people keep putting her in movies is beyond me. Her acting talent does not extend to anything beyond being herself, so directors, get a freaking clue!
"The Pink Panther" has its moments and certainly I can think of worse movies to watch, but this sequel really has little if anything to offer that the original does not already deliver and with better quality. Martin does not make a bad Clouseau, but just like the character, the rest of the movie is clueless.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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