Comic legend Steve Martin reprises his role as Inspector Jacques Clouseau and co-writes the screenplay which entertains, but occasionally feels like a template for predictable, yet enjoyable visual gags.
Based on director Blake Edwards’ Pink Panther film series, this crime comedy utilizes a cast of prominent actors, giving each at least one strong function within a solid plot.
Martin portrays Clouseau as a brilliant bumbler who still falls, quite literally, into situations where he can solve the crime…or at least temporarily quell it.
Veteran British actress Emily Mortimer (The Kid) plays Clouseau’s assistant/love interest Nicole. Their romantic relationship expands based on a special evening in Rome that includes a great sight gag involving every person in a restaurant.
“We must never forget not to remember it,” says Nicole about that night as they try to keep their relationship secret in the workplace.
Clouseau doesn’t always have the right words, but he does know when to take advantage of his reputation even giving the audience little hints that he does take his work seriously.
Filmmakers also boost Clouseau’s observation talents throughout the quick paced one hour and 27 minute plot as he matches up with a “dream team” of international detectives.
This team must stop “Le Tornado”, a thief stealing prominent treasures including the Shroud of Turin, The Imperial Sword, Magna Carta and, of course, the Pink Panther diamond.
Each detective matches with their nation’s respective treasure well.
Andy Garcia (Ocean’s 11, When a Man Loves a Woman) plays Italian detective Vicenzo, who also takes a romantic interest in Nicole.
Alfred Molina (Maverick, Spider-Man 2) plays British detective Pepperidge and Yuki Matsuzaki (Letters From Iwo Jima) plays Japanese detective Kenji.
Aishwaya Rai Bachchan (Dhoom 2, Bride & Prejudice) also joins the team as a crime expert; not a strong star building role for the huge international “Bollywood” star, but she does make an impression.
Clouseau’s bumbling reputation stresses Chief Inspector Dreyfus, played by John Cleese who takes over for Kevin Kline. Dreyfus also hires a social/political “coach” for Clouseau named Mrs. Berenger, played by Lily Tomlin. This coach becomes a unique plot device where Clouseau accounts for the inappropriate things he did.
Clouseau’s partner, Ponton, played by popular French actor Jean Reno (French Kiss, The Professional), returns with his two young sons help add more appeal for younger audiences. Jeremy Irons has a small, but prominent role as Avellaneda, a mysterious figure questioned in the high-profile thefts.
The plot skews international appeal so it won’t be surprisingly if this movie doesn’t steal the box office gold in the U.S.A., but it will definitely clean up internationally.
The Pink Panther 2 provides great entertainment and succeeds with a variety of comedy ranging from crude to slapstick to elaborate with a few, short recycled jokes from the previous installment.
If you’re keeping track, this film will be the 11th Pink Panther installment in the film series. Clouseau was previously played by Alan Arkin, Roger Moore and, mostly notably, Peter Sellers.
Recommended (***) and rated PG for sexual references (little ones won’t understand them, but teenagers will), crude humor and language.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler