The Pink Panther
Dr. Tom Snyder
No one can truly replace Peter Sellers as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau in the popular, hilarious Pink Panther movies by Blake Edwards. After a slow start in this remake, Steve Martin makes a worthy successor, however. Assisting his agile performance is a good script that, once it gets going, has plenty of laugh-out-loud, amusing sequences, as well as clever plot twists, to keep viewers entertained and engrossed.
The Pink Panther opens with a murder at a soccer game between France and China. The disliked coach of the French team has been murdered and his priceless ring with the Pink Panther diamond is missing. Chief Inspector Dreyfus, played by Kevin Kline, believes that he can finally win the French Medal of Honor if he gives Officer Jacques Clouseau, played by Steve Martin, the case and then takes over for Clouseau when he fails. Dreyfus thinks Clouseau is completely incompetent.
Recently given the rank of inspector, Clouseau seems to prove Dreyfus correct in his assessment. Clouseau also doesn't know that the assistant Dreyfus has given him, Ponton (played by Jean Reno), is spying on Clouseau for Dreyfus. When Clouseau seems to be having some success, Dreyfus invents a plan to make Clouseau look like the fool that he is. His plan works. Only some last-minute detective work can help save poor Clouseau and solve the case.
The Pink Panther has the usual gags one would expect from a remake of such a classic. The movie comes into its own, however, with some outstanding comic sequences and clever plot twists. One of the movie's best running jokes is Clouseau unknowingly tripping and hurting professional bicyclists in various ways. Another very funny bit involves Clouseau playing "Good Cop, Bad Cop" on a suspect – all by himself. When his partner tells him that usually two cops pull that routine, Clouseau is unconcerned. Of course, there is the usual bit of funny business between Clouseau and Dreyfus, which Peter Sellers and Herbert Lom inaugurated in the second Clouseau movie, A Shot in the Dark. All the humor in this movie comes down to the final revelation of who killed the coach and who took the diamond: all revealed at a VIP party, of course.
Clouseau's character changed from the first Peter Sellers movie to the last one. The new movie is no different. Steve Martin, who co-wrote the script, brings an absurdist, lanky quality to the character. The script and his performance also manage to generate a fair amount of sympathy for Clouseau when Dreyfus finally takes him off the case. In the very first Clouseau movie with Peter Sellers, also titled The Pink Panther, Clouseau was not the hero, but, here, in Martin's version (as in the later movies with Sellers), Clouseau is a bumbling hero. Like Maxwell Smart in the Get Smart series on television, Clouseau has his heart in the right place and has just enough moxie and talent to finally succeed and beat the bad guys.
Despite some light sexual innuendo and brief, but light, foul language, The Pink Panther has a strong moral worldview. Bumbling, clueless, and conceited though he may be, Martin's Clouseau is a decent, earnest fellow who has a heart for catching criminals, promoting justice, and serving his country. Also despite the sexual innuendo, marriage and fidelity are implicitly extolled in one minor sub-plot at the end. Final judgment? Based on the one screening, we give the new Pink Panther three stars and a Minus One caution for children aged eight through 13. It is not a movie for children under age eight.
Address Comments To:
Michael Lynton, Chairman/CEO
Amy Pascal, Chairman - Motion Picture Group
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232-3195
Phone: (310) 244-4000
Fax: (310) 244-2626
Web Page: www.spe.sony.com/
NOTE from Dr. Ted Baehr, publisher of Movieguide Magazine.
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