Judge Eric Profancik cribbed this review by splicing together discarded notes from his other reviews.
There is only one Inspector Clouseau. His adventure continues…
…Even though he's dead.
Talk about the ultimate milking of a franchise. Your star has passed on yet you make new a movie "starring" him. Not once but twice! Amazing. And George Lucas thinks we're still a ways off from creating digital actors.
If you know anything about the history of The Pink Panther films, then you know that they all rested on the shoulders of one man, Peter Sellers, as Inspector, err, Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau. It was his zany physical humor that made the franchise so successful and worth watching. But then Sellers died in 1980, which one would normally consider to be the end of a franchise. No more star typically equates to no more films.
Yet the ingeniously greedy discovered a semi-clever way to rip-off loyal Panther fans. With the release of Trail of the Pink Panther, we have a film starring the deceased Peter Sellers in footage never-before-seen in theaters, but it wasn't new. In this 97-minute movie, Clouseau is featured in only the first half, when he's sent to look for the yet again stolen pink panther diamond. This footage was in fact taken from deleted scenes from other Pink Panther films, most notably 1976's The Pink Panther Strikes Again.
Clever? Somewhat? Crude? Absolutely. Worth watching, not a chance! This footage was deleted for a reason, and that reason is that it's bad. Adding insult to injury, trying to form a cogent narrative from a collection of deleted scenes is extremely difficult, and it doesn't work here. You can't create a true narrative from this discarded material, and Trail is a jumbled mess.
But what happens in the last half of the film? When Clouseau disappears (along with an entire plane that nobody seems to care about), we watch an intrepid newswoman (Joanna Lumley, Absolutely Fabulous) doggedly investigate his odd disappearance. She interviews Clouseau's boss, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Herbert Lom, The Dead Zone), his old nemesis, Sir Charles Litten (David Niven, The Sea Wolves), his father (Richard Mulligan, Night Court), French mafia boss Bruno Langois (Robert Loggia, Independence Day), and a few other assorted characters. During the interview, we are treated to flashbacks of stellar scenes from other Pink Panther movies.
In these flashbacks comes the only true humor in the entire film.
Without question, Trail of the Pink Panther is a shameful, terrible movie that is an insult to Peter Sellers, simply looking to make a few dollars for the franchise. Deleted material isn't meant to be used, and trying to craft a movie from it doesn't succeed. The added filler doesn't gel either, and the film is a total mess.
The disc itself is less of a disaster, given a coat of paint to spruce things up. Sporting a new 2.35:1 anamorphic print, you will find a picture that is a bit soft with a weak palette and a delightful assortment of grain and dirt. As we're using multiple sources for the material, in actuality, it's not horrible for what it is (and its age). On the audio front you have either the original mono track or a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. I listened to the new mix and was pleased with the results. While things were primarily emanating from the center stage with a touch of hollowness, I found the new mix rather enjoyable, nicely utilizing the additional channels. Also included on the disc are a photo gallery titled "Shots in the Dark" and the theatrical trailer.
Any fan of Peter Sellers knows the truth behind this movie, and now you know too. If you want a truly comedic Pink Panther movie, stick with the original from 1963. This one is nothing but an insult.
Trail is on trial and is hereby found guilty of abusing a corpse.
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