The Pink Panther
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Shawn Levy
scr Len Blum, Steve Martin
with Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyoncé Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Henry Czerny, Roger Rees, William Abadie, Kristin Chenoweth, Phillip Goodwin, Clive Owen, Jason Statham
release US 10.Feb.06,
UK 17.Mar.06
06/US MGM-Columbia 1h33

Elementary, my dear: Knowles, Kline and Martin

reno mortimer owen
The Pink Panther Fans of Blake Edwards' films starring Peter Sellers will visibly pale at the thought of this remake. Although it doesn't stand up to the originals, it's not half bad, thanks to a script that has moments of genuine wit.

Jacques Clouseau (Martin) is a bumbling small-town French cop promoted to inspector and assigned to solve the high-profile murder of the national football coach (Statham) and the theft of the mammoth Pink Panther diamond. But he's only given the job to make Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kline) look good. Dreyfus even assigns his spies as partner (Reno) and assistant (Mortimer). The investigation takes Clouseau to New York as he follows the victim's popstar girlfriend (Knowles). Goofy silliness ensues.

"Silliness" seems to be the touchstone for this entire film, as no one takes it remotely seriously, which is rather refreshing. Besides one moment of emotion, there are no morals, no resonance, no biting satire, nothing that makes us think. The mystery is refreshingly straightforward, with a couple of brisk twists and a snappy resolution. What's left is pure slapstick, and even here Martin mercifully restrains himself. Although his vocal acrobatics are completely daft; unlike Sellers' more satirical performance, Martin goes for pinched nerd mannerisms and a Lili Von Shtupp accent.

Everything in this film depends on visual and verbal gags, most of the old chestnut variety. If the idea of Martin in a microscopic Smart car having trouble parallel parking in a huge space strikes you as funny, this movie's for you. The film is packed with jokes as obvious as this, and also with some surprisingly clever wordplay, visual puns and nutty variations on old Pink Panther shtick.

The surrounding cast is good fun. Although Beyoncé plays it utterly straight, like a glamorous diva who wandered into the wrong movie (she looks fabulous, I should add). And Owen's cameo is hilariously inspired. Several jokes and set pieces are painfully unfunny, and the film has a severely pointless and irrelevant tone to it. But many moments deliver the goods with surprising nimbleness. Faint praise perhaps, but it's much better than it should have been.

cert PG themes, innuendo 26.Jan.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... The Pink Panther Laurie T, Minneapolis: "We saw this one because we needed a laugh and all I can say is it is a good laugh - Steve Martin plays a good inspector Clouseau, and Kevin Kline is awesome as his boss. It is just plain silly and of course, in the end he solves the crime in his usual way. Good remake or reminder of what the original Pink Panther films were like." (11.Feb.06)
© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall