The Pink Panther is back, with Steve Martin making a second outing as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau. Not surprisingly, in a performance that seems dedicated to former US president George W Bush, Martin embarrasses his way through 90 minutes of rehashed plot and obvious comedy.
In this latest misconceived incarnation of the comedy series begun by Blake Edwards back in the 1960s, Clouseau heads up an international "Dream Team" of super-detectives — Vincenzo, (Garcia), Pepperidge, (Molina), Kenji, (Matsuzaki) and Sonia, (Bachchan). The team investigates the theft of a number of priceless and culturally significant objects from across the world by the infamous thief dubbed The Tornado. Included in this inventory is the Pink Panther diamond for which Clouseau is seen as a particular guardian. The story follows the usual path as Clouseau thwarts all attempts at real investigation and wreaks havoc and destruction wherever he goes, on the way to inevitably solving the case.
Directed by Harald Zwart, this story is not new, but the comedy is so unoriginal and clichéd that it turns the plot terribly stale, complete with overblown fake accents and all the usual physical humour suspects. Even the weight of a supporting cast full of proven actors cannot provide any smiles, let alone laughs. Brief allusions to comedy are hinted at by Cleese as the ever suffering Chief Inspector Dreyfus, (replacing Kevin Kline, who obviously wised up after the first one) and Tomlin as the "political correctness monitor", Mrs Berenger, (attempted irony excluded).
Martin is not endearing as Clouseau; even his romance with colleague Nicole (Mortimer) is mundane and ineffectual, despite Mortimer’s sweet performance. Clouseau’s off-sider Ponton (Reno, the only real Frenchman in the film) is not utilised in any capacity, aside from standing around looking bemused. You definitely know that the financial crisis has hit Hollywood when comedic legend Cleese and cinema stalwarts Reno, Tomlin and Garcia are prepared to put their names to such trash. This Pink Panther lacks any of the finesse of the original serties of films, and should slink away quietly and hide in a corner, soon to be forgotten. Butbif you are up for 90 minutes of infantile nonsense that belittles your intelligence then knock yourself out — or as the case may be, watch Clouseau do it.