Pink Panther 2, The
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2

Steve Martin, Andy Garcia, John Cleese, Alfred Molina, Aishwarya Rai, Lily Tomlin. Written by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Steve Martin. Directed by Harold Zwart.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Steve Martin returns as Inspector Clouseau. Aided by a team of international detectives, the klutzy cop traces the steps of a master criminal who’s swiping legendary treasures, including the infamous Pink Panther diamond.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Why is this called The Pink Panther 2? I can only assume that attaching the “2” to the title has been done in an effort to distract movie audiences from the original series. This is understandable. For not only is the style, tone and pacing different from the first two 1960s Blake Edwards movies, but any performer stepping in as clueless Clouseau faces negative comparison with the star of those films, the enigmatic Peter Sellers.

Not all of the sequels in the first series were great, or even good, but the role of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau became equated with Peter Sellers. Others have since tried on the official Mackintosh, bore the broad mustache and faked a French accent, but their interpretations, like the films themselves, were so below radar detection that only we geeky film buffs can name them. (May their careers and those films rest in peace.)

Now, despite this Pink Panther curse, that wild and crazy guy Steve Martin takes on the role, for the second time no less, and because of his temerity, we who remember Peter Sellers are reminded of Sellers’ unmatched sly genius.

I am a fan of Steve Martin, he’s an exceptional talent, able to handle slapstick along with cerebral wit. Here, however, he makes the same mistake as other Clouseau imitators: he hesitates to give his creation a soul. Along with his broad slapstick and self-indulgence, Sellers managed a sincerity other actors neglect when donning this role. They go for the comedy, as did he, at any cost, but Sellers’ Clouseau was genuine. The imitators are trying to be funny, while Sellers was trying to be real. That’s what made his comedy hilarious.

If you examine Sellers’ portrayal in his Pink Panther, and especially A Shot in the Dark (made the same year as The Pink Panther), you can’t help but like the character despite his self-centeredness, his complete obliviousness to reality. That’s because Sellers made Clouseau guileless. And though his subsequent sequels dwindled into to comic buffoonery, the first two films presented Clouseau as three-dimensional.

But a new generation is being brought to theaters to hear the Henry Mancini theme song and to be amused by comedy that can only be signaled out as Three Stooges-lite. To be fair, kids in the audience seemed to enjoy this new interpretation, as did accompanying adults who were entering a dimension that allowed them to forget the stresses of the day. Devoid of obscenity, sexual exploitation or excessive violence, The Pink Panther 2 has one objective, to make you laugh. And even I have to admit, occasionally it succeeds.

I just get frustrated as a film critic. While there have always been mediocre movies, even in Hollywood’s Golden Era, I hate seeing today’s filmmakers borrow the titles of beloved classics and then proceed to “update” them with banality.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Sony Pictures

Summary
Crude Language: A few racists comments, but the humor is belittling stereotypes.
Obscene Language: I caught none.
Profanity: The expression “oh my God” and variations of it are uttered several times
Violence: Lots of slapstick, Three Stooges-like humor; a final chase results in gun shooting, with a character being shot (though he is not injured thanks to the bullet being reflected, another character is killed by the bullet – this is played for laughs and because the victim is such a minor character, no one gives him a second thought.
Sexual Intercourse: There is some minor sexual innuendo and the lead character is chastised for his political incorrectness; no excessive sexual activity.
Nudity: None, even the femme fatale is completely clothed.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: A few sexual innuendos
Drug Abuse: Wine with dinner.
Other: None
Running Time: 92 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)