Anyone remember Ted Wass? He starred in Curse of the Pink Panther.
Alan Arkin (Inspector Clouseau) tried to step into the banana-slipping shoes of Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau. Roberto Benigni played the title role in Son of the Pink Panther). Their performances were forgettable. If only the movies were, too, but, alas, they live on as painful memories.
In spite of all this, Steve Martin now gives it a try, in a script he co-wrote. This is a prequel to the original The Pink Panther that updates the bumbling inspector to the era of cell phones, the Internet, and Viagra. In the first few minutes, there’s a hit on the head, an electric shock, and a goat stampede. As we filed out of the theater during the credits, some wise guy made hand shadows on the screen and they were more entertaining than anything we’d seen there all evening. This is less like Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards and more like “Ernest Goes to Paris.”
Here is what is not funny: Steve Martin pursing his lips. Steve Martin mangling a French accent (hint: this idea works better when the story does not take place in France, where everyone is supposed to be speaking French, and when the “funny” accent is almost indistinguishable from the not-funny accents of other non-French people pretending to be French by speaking through their noses). It is especially not funny when an accent specialist tries to teach Clouseau how to ask for a hamburger, because what begins as not funny is then repeated, becoming not-funnier every time. It is not funny that it appears that two characters are having sex or that two men have to share a bed. And even the slapstick is mostly not funny because it is staged so poorly. The movie wastes the considerable talents of Beyonce Knowles.
Here is what is not so bad: Steve Martin has a funny walk and a cute little car. I give him credit for going back to the original source of the title — the Pink Panther is a huge diamond. Emily Mortimer is adorable. There is a funny joke about camouflage. Jean Reno looks uncomfortable but he is gracious as ever and brings a little class to his corner of the film. And in a very brief cameo, Clive Owen shows us what we’re missing in not having him as the new James Bond. Like the original Henry Mancini theme song, his presence only reminds us of what we’d rather be watching.
Parents should know that the movie has some inexcusably crude and vulgar humor for a PG movie, including potty jokes, a Viagra gag, sexual harassment humor and skimpy clothes. A woman sits on a man’s shoulders with his head in her crotch and there is what appears to be an athletic (though clothed) sexual encounter (this mistaken impression is supposed to be funny). It is also supposed to be funny that two men share a bed. Electrodes are pushed down pants and later we see the crotch of the pants is smoking. There is some crude language (Clouseau says he wants to seduce a witness and “pump” her for information). Characters drink in social settings. There is a great deal of head-bonking comic humor, including electric shocks, crashes, and explosions, with some injuries and two characters are murdered.
Families who see this movie should talk about why Dreyfus would think that it would make him look good to hire someone who could not do a good job. Why did Ponton grow to respect Clouseau?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the 1963 original with Peter Sellers, The Man Who Knew Too Little with Bill Murray, and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!.