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The Pink Panther
2006 - PG - 93 Mins.
Director: Shawn Levy
Producer: Robert Simonds
Written By: Len Blum
Starring: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer
Review by: Greg Ursic
Official Site: www.sonypictures.com/movies/thepinkpanther/
   

Quick, hide the dailies - they can't burn them if they can't find them.
Moments after his team scores a stunning upset, renowned soccer coach Yves Gluant (Jason Statham) is assassinated on the field. In the ensuing confusion his spectacular trophy diamond, the Pink Panther, goes missing. The head of the Paris police, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline), calls on the bumbling provincial constable Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) to investigate the case. Suspicion falls on Xania (Beyonce Knowles), with whom Gluant shared a tempestuous public relationship. The chase is on for the killer and the thief.

I will always associate Peter Sellers with Inspector Clouseau – his impeccable comic timing, combined with the deliciously mangled accent and inevitable screw-ups were quite the sight to behold in the original 'Pink Panther' movies. And who could forget the classic dialogue? The one scene that always comes to mind is when Clouseau asks an innkeeper about the dog sitting at his feet: Clouseau “Does your dug bite?” Innkeeper “No”. Clouseau reaches for the dog and is promptly bitten. Clouseau jerks his hand back and shrieks “I tot you said you dug does not bite.” The innkeeper replies “Dats not my dog.” What made him even funnier was that in spite of his perpetual screw-ups, Clouseau always tried to maintain his dignity. However, I was about 10 when I saw the first 'Panther' film, which clearly skews my perspective. I remember watching one of the original ''Panther' films several years ago. While it was amusing, it felt dated. Does anyone really find mocking foreign accents funny these days, even if it is the French? Apparently MGM never bothered to ask the question.

This “prequel” to the original 'Pink Panther' series languished in production hell at MGM for years. During this time, a host of actors, including Mike Meyers and Kevin Spacey, showed interest in the role of the infinitely incompetent inspector. Rumours that Jackie Chan was going to play the irrepressibly insane Cato sparked my interest, but once again the project was shelved. It wasn’t until 2003 that Steve Martin agreed to step into Clouseau’s moustache with Shawn Levy at the helm. If your alarm bells aren’t ringing at this point you obviously missed Martin’s most recent misstep, 'Cheaper By the Dozen,' which Levy also directed. Feel the need for some Gravol yet? Apparently MGM did, as they repeatedly pushed until they were bought out by Sony and the problem was no longer theirs. While it was a stroke of luck for the outgoing MGM brass, it’s bad news for Pink Panther fans.

Steve Martin can be a funny guy, just rent 'Roxanne,' 'The Jerk' or 'LA Story.' This makes his Clouseau all the more disappointing. The wild ‘n crazy guy passion from his earlier performances is sadly lacking here. It feels like he’s just going through the motions with a bad accent. The result is a third rate Peter Sellers imitation.

The rest of the cast feels equally uninspired. Kevin Kline appears perpetually bored as Dreyfus, while Beyonce is little more than a walking product placement. One can only wonder how Jean Reno, the only French castmember (and a perpetual favorite of mine) doesn’t cringe during every scene as those around him mock his countrymen. He is also the only member of the cast that delivers a decent performance as the straight man of the piece.

The few giggle-inducing scenes in the movie have been mercilessly played to death in the trailers. For example, the initial humor in the scene where Clouseau struggles to master the phrase “I would like to buy a hamburger” is drawn out for roughly seven cringe-inducing minutes. Other efforts to make the movie seem contemporary by including references to the internet or Viagra simply smack of desperation.

'The Pink Panther' is an inchoate mess punctuated by a series of hopelessly dated gags and lame pratfalls. Sony needs to put this cat to sleep tout de suite.
 
Movie Guru Rating
Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable. Bland, boring, inept. Forgettable.
  1.5 out of 5 stars

 
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