Judge Dan Mancini demands to know if you have a license for your minkey.
Our review of The Pink Panther 2, published June 23rd, 2009, is also available.
Inspect the unexpected.
Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant dead ant dead ant dead ant dead ant…
Facts of the Case
After the events of The Pink Panther, Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin, The Jerk) has been demoted to a parking officer. Much to Chief Inspector Dreyfus' (John Cleese, A Fish Called Wanda) chagrin, the French government demands that Clouseau is included in an international dream team of investigators that they assemble after a thief named Tornado steals the Magna Carta, the Shroud of Turin, Japan's Imperial Sword, and the Pink Panther diamond. Clouseau, his partner Ponton (Jean Reno, Léon), his girlfriend Nicole (Emily Mortimer, Transsiberian), and the Dream Team—Britain's Pepperidge (Alfred Molina, Spider-Man 2), Italy's Vincenzo (Andy Garcia, The Godfather Part III), Japan's Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki, Letters from Iwo Jima), and India's Sonia Solandres (Aishwarya Rai, Bride & Prejudice)—travel to Rome to ferret out the identity of the Tornado. Along the way, Clouseau makes an ass of himself…again and again.
Steve Martin has taken a critical drubbing of late for his loose, family-friendly remakes of director Walter Lang's 1950 comedy Cheaper by the Dozen and Blake Edwards' 1963 comic caper The Pink Panther. The latter was treated as an especially egregious sin since Edwards' original is considered something of a classic that made Peter Sellers (Dr. Strangelove) a bona fide movie star. Truth be told, I was not among those who considered remaking The Pink Panther cinematic sacrilege on par with, say, that remake of Rear Window starring Shia LaBeouf or the oft-rumored (and much dreaded) reimagining of Casablanca. I loved watching the adventures of bumbling French Inspector Jacques Clouseau on TV when I was a kid (I even saw Revenge of the Pink Panther in the theater during its original run), but let's face facts: With the exception of The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark, the series is basically a sloppy collection of (often brilliant) Peter Seller riffs. Watching most of the Panther flicks, one gets the sense that Blake Edwards was less concerned with making good movies than he was with having a good time while making them.
I'm not trying to tear down the eight films of the original Pink Panther series (though the final three are truly execrable). I'm only trying to make the case that a series reboot wasn't unthinkable. Done right, it could have been hilarious. It's too bad, then, that Martin (who co-writes as well as stars in the new movies) played it a bit too safe. Watching The Pink Panther 2, one gets the sense that Martin came at this project a couple decades too late. The Steve Martin who made The Jerk or even Dirty Rotten Scoundrels might have done justice to Clouseau, might have brought to the character the requisite spastic, childlike insanity. The 21st-century Martin, draped in the mellow dignity of a long and successful career, never quite embraces the full-throttle foolishness that Clouseau demands. As a result, he looks foolish for having bothered to take on the role at all. To be sure, The Pink Panther 2 has its funny moments (I laughed out loud during a sequence in which Clouseau clumsily cases a suspect's mansion while be watched by surveillance cameras; a gag with falling wine bottles at a posh French restaurant is also funny), but its overall effect is less inspired comedy than innocuous silliness.
The movie's plot is more water-tight than most of Edwards' films, but lacks the energy and rowdy, off-color humor that Sellers brought to his Clouseau outings. In perhaps The Pink Panther 2's greatest irony, Lily Tomlin does comic battle with Martin as a sensitivity coach hired to reign in Inspector Clouseau's politically incorrect instincts. The problem is that Martin's Clouseau isn't the least bit politically insensitive when compared to Seller's version, who was forever disguising himself as hunchbacks, midgets, priests, and women, to say nothing of his penchant for getting into hilariously absurd conversations with blind men and beggars, and his ongoing martial arts battles with his Asian manservant, Cato Fong (played to perfection by Bert Kwouk, Goldfinger). Martin's Clouseau is so neutered of potentially offensive humor that Tomlin feels entirely wasted. One wishes she could square off against Sellers, or at least the Steve Martin who once had the audacity to declare that he'd been born a poor black child.
The Pink Panther 2 may be a mediocre comedy, but it looks great on Blu-ray. Colors are spectacularly vivid throughout, with rich blacks and accurate flesh tones. Detail isn't eye-popping in close-ups, but establishing shots of Paris, London, and Rome are gorgeous. The DTS-HD lossless audio mix is well designed with dynamic use of the entire soundstage. The audio isn't anywhere near as thunderous as the latest Michael Bay opus, but it's not intended to be. Effects are forceful when necessary, bolstered by controlled LFE. Dialogue and midrange effects are always crystal clear.
Disc One of this three-disc set contains the feature and a modest array of extras. There's a three-minute gag reel and two featurettes: "Drama is Easy…Comedy is Dangerous" (7:43) is a behind-the-scenes piece about the movie's physical comedy; "A Dream Team Like No Other" (13:56) is about the movie's impressive cast. The gag reel is presented in standard definition, while the two featurettes are given a full HD treatment. There's also a trivia game called "Master Thief—Global Crime Showdown." In it, you trot the globe, stealing great works of art and other antiquities by answering trivia questions.
Disc Two is a rebranding of the first disc from the five-disc The Pink Panther: Classic Cartoon Collection set. It contains the first 27 Pink Panther animated shorts (created between 1964 and 1967), presented in production order:
• "The Pink Phink"
Disc Three is a digital copy of the film for download to your PC, Mac, or mobile device.
The Pink Panther 2 is a pretty Blu-ray and a pretty mediocre film. It's not as bad as some have made it out to be (and certainly not as painfully awful as Curse of the Pink Panther or Son of the Pink Panther), but it's still bafflingly unnecessary. Steve Martin is capable of much better.
Guilty as charged.
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