Pink Panther, The (2006)

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: +2 1/2

Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Henry Czerny, Beyonc Knowles. Columbia Pictures. Crime caper comedy. Written by Len Blum, Steve Martin. Directed by Shawn Levy.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A famous soccer coach has been murdered and his priceless ring stolen a ring set with the stunning diamond known as the Pink Panther. Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) is assigned to the case, much to the chagrin of Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kline).

PREVIEW REVIEW: Not all of the sequels in the 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 interpretation, 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, and because of his temerity, we who remember Peter Sellers are reminded of his unmatched sly genius.

I am a fan of Steve Martin, hes an exceptional talent, but here he makes the same mistake other Clouseau imitators have made with their mimicry: 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 others are trying to be funny, Sellers was trying to be real. Thats what made the comedy hilarious.

If you examine his portrayal in his Pink Panther, and especially A Shot in the Dark (made the same year as The Pink Panther), you cant help but like him despite his self-centeredness, his complete obliviousness to reality. Thats because the character was guileless. Though his subsequent sequels dwindled to comic buffoonery, the first two films presented Clouseau as three dimensional. In this remake, Mr. Martin attempts a tender moment, but it comes across as maudlin and untrue.

Sellers had one other secret weapon: Herbert Lom as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Indeed, in Return of and Revenge of the Pink Panther, Lom surpassed Sellers with the brilliant, hilarious creation of the put-upon superior.

This isnt a bad film. There are some very funny moments. Martin is, after all, that wild and crazy guy. And there are some delightful sight gags, each an homage to delightful sight gags in the original films. But as with the majority of remakes, it is unnecessary, a blurred carbon copy. I know remakes are the vogue, but what must we endure next? Will some egotist attempt to revamp the role of John Waynes Rooster Cogburn? In the words of Clouseau/Sellers, Those fools!

Interesting side note: Clive Owen (Croupier, Closer) makes a comic cameo as a British secret service agent (006). If the Bond producers see this film, theyll realize they made a big mistake not recently casting Mr. Owen as the super spy.

Video alternative: A Shot In the Dark. The best of the series, Inspector Clouseau falls for a beautiful murder suspect in this hilarious followup to The Pink Panther.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: there are several crudities and one extended flatulence joke that is both crude and strained

Obscene Language: a couple of minor expletives and one use of bastard

Profanity: None

Violence: there are two killings, one by a jolting gun shot; much of the humor is derived from physical slapstick that includes overused painful crotch incidents and several times bicyclists are the target of slapstick accidents

Sex: beautiful Beyonc is decked out in low-cut dresses, but the sexual humor is restrained to a couple of innuendos that seem tame by todays cinema standards; a passionate kiss.

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: there are a few jokes that border on the raunchy, but the filmmaker refrains from becoming too bawdy

Drugs: social drinking in a couple of scenes

Other: Please be aware that the sexual innuendo and the occasional crude visuals seem inappropriate for a PG film. One scene implies that the lead is going to go to bed with the femme fatale. But he loses his Viagra pill down the sink. In another scene our hero, trying to be a gentleman by helping his female assistant off a table, winds up with her legs stretched around his shoulders, his head in her crotch.

Running Time: 90 minutes
Intended Audience: anyone who hasnt seen a Peter Sellers movie

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