Synopsis: Steve Martin returns to the scene of the fun as the brilliant, bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau in this side-splitting slapstick comedy for the whole family! When legendary treasures from around the world are stolen, including the priceless Pink Panther diamond, Clouseau is assigned to a dream team of international detectives who are under pressure to bring the master thief to justice before he strikes again. Co-starring Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia, Lily Tomlin and John Cleese, The Pink Panther 2 will steal your heart…and keep you laughing!
eyelights: the solid ensemble cast. Beyoncé’s not in it.
eyesores: Steve Martin’s performance. the lame gags.
“Let me bring you up to speed… We know nothing. You are now up to speed.”
I never intended to watch this sequel to 2006’s reboot of ‘The Pink Panther‘. I hated the other one so much that there was no saving its follow-up in mine eyes. Being a dismal critical and commercial failure didn’t help it any, either; it just served to confirm what I knew all along: it was a big stinkin’ piece of crap.
However, when I decided to go through the Pink Panther films for TCE, due to my love of the original Sellers entries, a part of me felt that I should perhaps do the reboots as well. I didn’t want to, but I realized that I could do an extra week, and thus, fill the whole month, if I screwed up my courage for my readers’ benefits.
And so it was that I went to my local pawn shop and traded in four DVDs that had cost 25 cents each (tax included) in a two-for-one deal that netted me the two Steve Martin entries in the series for a whole dollar. I figured that this was the most I would be willing to pay for them – aside for my precious time and a little bit more of my sanity.
And so we have ‘The Pink Panther 2’.
The story this time is a throwback to the original films: A master thief has been stealing some of the world’s most iconic artifacts and the affected countries have rounded up their best detectives together to find the culprit. And since Inspector Clouseau is considered the world’s best, they ask that France lend him to the team.
Soon after Clouseau is put on the case, the Pink Panther diamond (which is no longer in Beyoncé’s ring, as it was in the reboot) is stolen from a display in a Paris museum. The world’s best detectives all converge in Paris to join Clouseau while the clues are still fresh. Naturally, Clouseau bumbles his way through it.
There’s really not much to be said about this picture. It didn’t suck as hard as the last one did, which is already a plus; I wasn’t in total agony while watching this one. But it’s incredibly unfunny, filled with unsubtle “humour” clearly aimed at kids, while throwing in some sexual innuendos for the adults watching the picture with them.
Steve Martin is still unwatchable. He’s the main problem with this reboot series: while Sellers gave Inspector Clouseau pride and dignity, Martin’s version is just a big caricature – he plays it broad at all times; there is no subtlety. And he’s not especially good at broad comedy; the best roles of his career were always more nuanced.
His routines reminded me of Sellers’ in ‘The Return of the Pink Panther‘, actually. For some reason, Sellers wasn’t at his sharpest in that one and the longer choreographies were quite weak. The quality of pretty much all of Martin’s bits are reminiscent of that. There were a couple exceptions, like the flashback to Clouseau and Nicole’s dinner in Rome.
The accent that he gives the character is particularly grating. It’s very much an American’s idea of what a French accent would be: over-the-top, with Ws instead of Rs and a lisp. And you can’t escape Martin’s accent: it’s incessant. At least Sellers’ nonsensical accent showed up once in a while, but disappeared the rest the picture.
Another problem is that Steve Martin’s Clouseau shows signs of cleverness from time-to-time. What made the original hilarious is that he THOUGHT he was clever, but was actually an imbecile who pratfalled onto the solution. Here, Clouseau actually solves cases by using his powers of deduction, somehow outdoing his peers.
It just doesn’t make sense.
It also doesn’t make sense that the world thinks so highly of him given that he has a propensity for embarrassing himself in the most public places. And on a grand scale. At least the original character embarrassed himself with a certain amount of discretion, so that only select few people knew that he was actually a fool.
Thankfully, the rest of the cast is a huge improvement over the last picture; with the addition of a whole team of detectives, at least Martin’s performance is diluted. Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki and Aishwarya Rai lend the picture much-needed credibility, and have enough screen time to compensate for Martin.
Jean Reno returns as Clouseau’s sidekick, Gendarme Ponton. I find it annoying that they made these new Pink Panther films into buddy cop movies, but what can you do? Emily Mortimer is no longer just Dreyfus’ assistant: she becomes Clouseau’s love interest in this one. I hate her cartoony accent, but that was established in the first picture.
Kevin Kline didn’t return as Dreyfus, but John Cleese stepped in. Although he’s been in some pretty shoddy films in this latter part of his career (to pay for his many alimonies, as he says), he comes through well enough, and at least he doesn’t have Kline’s smugness and that filthy accent of his; Cleese can’t be bothered with it. Good.
And then there’s the absence of Beyoncé, who was central to the plot of the original picture. Thanks goodness. As strikingly beautiful as she is, she is a horrible actress, like a doe in headlights. She stunk up the first picture in every scene she was in. So I am not shedding one tear for her absence here. She can stick to singing.
The script is also pretty awful. Whereas the original series was peppered with non sequitur and general idiocy, the dialogues here serve up absolutely no cleverness. They even bring back the “Hamburger” bit from the previous film – one of the most painful “gags” in recent memory. It doesn’t even make sense in this context; it was just wedged in there.
And there were all the clichés. Not only is the picture a buddy cop picture, but they had the contrived romantic tension thing we see too much of: Naturally, Nicole is eyed by Vincenzo, which makes Clouseau jealous, and Nicole thinks that Clouseau has his eye on Sonia. Nothing that simple communication wouldn’t fix, naturally. But not here, of course.
The direction is also f-ing horrible. Harald Zwart is obviously not a comedy director. A perfect example is when Clouseau visits with the Pope and suggest that he might have stolen his own ring to sell it so that he could buy a big house. Cut to a long shot of the sumptuous palace he’s in. It’s a poor joke, I know.
But that should have been it.
Alas, Zwart decided that the audience was probably too stupid to understand what is being suggested, so he had the Pope add “I kinda do”. Oh… is that what was funny about the scene? Thanks for spoon-feeding me! I probably wouldn’t have gotten it, otherwise! Even the line sucks: the Pope never would have said “kinda”. “Like this one?” would have been better.
If you must.
Aside for the afore-mentioned Rome flashback, there was one other moment that I thought was enjoyable: when Clouseau meets the other detectives, there’s a duel of wits between him and Randall that was fun, if not overly clever. They were absurdly perceptive and deductive, but that was part of what made it amusing. Molina played Randal brilliantly.
But, otherwise, ‘The Pink Panther 2’ was a real waste of time. And money (I mean, the budget needed to make it and market it). It’s not as horrible as the first one in the reboot series, but the bar was set really low; it’s hardly stellar stuff. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except young, unsophisticated, easily-entertained children.
And even then, what’s the point when the originals exist?
Date of viewing: November 9, 2014