The Pink Panther Review
Let’s be honest, no one really thought this one was going to be much good. But nor could we have anticipated the 100% laugh free travesty that takes a franchise which essentially died nearly thirty years ago and resurrects it for the remake generation with Steve Martin stepping into the role of the bungling Inspector Clouseau. The disgraceful cut and paste jobs that were released after Peter Sellers’ death were bad enough, as was Roberto Benigni in Son Of The Pink Panther, but this is really a whole new level of toilet.
It’s billed as a prequel of sorts, as we get to see Clouseau go from a small town policeman to the lead detective in the search for the legendary Pink Panther diamond, this time stolen from a murdered soccer coach (Statham, doing the decent thing and dying in the first scene) whose girlfriend (Knowles) becomes the main suspect. It’s all part of a plan hatched by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kline), to hire an idiot so that he can then solve the case himself and get all the glory.
At first glance, Martin could have been ideal casting, but it’s been a long time since his peak in the ’80s when he was a true comic talent. The decline in the quality of his films is depressing to say the least, and he’s followed the Eddie Murphy career path from anarchic genius to childrens’ clown. If anyone is to shoulder the majority of the blame for this fiasco, it has to be him, partly as star but particularly as co-writer. He’s abandoned the pomposity that was the essence of Clouseau, instead filling the script with juvenile sight gags and dreadful word play, ultimately betraying the character completely by having him actually solve the case through semi-competent detective work.
The plot is invisible, the slapstick is graceless and the acting is pitiful (Reno gets pass marks as Clouseau’s sidekick but Martin, Kline and Mortimer should be ashamed of themselves). It’s not enough that the jokes are cringingly unfunny, they’re then repeated later in the film or laboured to the point of distraction and well beyond. The most frequently evoked emotion is embarrassment (during one protracted scene involving Clouseau trying to pronounce “hamburger”, I could actually feel my face going red) and the only rays of light come from the traditional animated credits and Henry Mancini’s immortal score. Truly, irretrievably, apocalyptically terrible.
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