3/10
Not to be confused with the one and only, truly original, panther pink panther from head to toes.
17 April 2006
I can see how this take on "The Pink Panther" has failed to be the box office disaster many have hoped it would be - it never pretends to be anything other than pure slapstick from beginning to end, which is no bad thing for a comedy. The trouble is, it's pretty BAD slapstick, rendering this "re-imagining" (with thanks to Tim Burton's problematic but slightly underrated "Planet of the Apes") somewhat pointless, and another misstep on the CV of inexplicably employable producer Robert Simonds and director Shaun Levy.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't laugh at all; the gag with the MGM lion is better than all of Kurtz & Friends' animated titles, and Steve Martin and Jean Reno masquerading as Beyonce's backup dancers is genuinely funny. But for most of the time the jokes are set up so obviously that Ray Charles in his current state could see them coming, not to mention being flogged to death (why are there TWO laboured gags about people thinking our hero is shagging a wasted Emily Mortimer? What is this, "Three's Company"?), and though Martin as Clouseau isn't nearly as annoying as he was in "Looney Tunes: Back In Action," he's still more infuriating than funny. (And why is his hair white when his moustache is black?)

Though star and co-writer, the former comic genius can't take all the blame; Kevin Kline's ineffective as Dreyfus (as well as never explaining why this supposedly French Chief Inspector sounds almost as British as some of the cast members), and though an uncredited Clive Owen is much better as Bond-alike Nigel Boswell, 006 ("One away from the big time"), his scene seems from an entirely different movie. The director proves that the weak "Cheaper By The Dozen" wasn't a fluke, with his light approach being too light to bring across a comedy and totally unable to handle mystery (remember, the first two "Naked Gun" movies were both very funny AND told a good story), and this is the kind of movie where you can tell who the villain is by careful study of the opening credits. And as for the rampant slathering of endless Paul Oakenfold remixes of Henry Mancini's famed theme in lieu of proper scoring... not that Christophe Beck's original music is all that good, but he still deserved better than that. (I could also wonder why a movie predominantly set in France was partly filmed in Rome and Prague, but that's just being really picky.)

Jean Reno is terrific as Clouseau's far more intelligent and supernaturally patient partner, and Beyonce Knowles turns in her best screen performance to date (probably because she's cast as a drop dead gorgeous world-famous singer), but ultimately ANY instalment of ANY animated incarnation of "The Pink Panther" is more satisfying than this entire movie. And yes, that does include the one where the Panther talked.
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