Directed by: Harald Zwart (Agent Cody Banks)
Starring: Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina
Since I was either smart enough or lucky enough to have avoided ever watching the 2006 rebooting of the Pink Panther franchise, it was with great trepidation that I sat down to watch this sequel. The first remade Pink Panther film, after all, was a movie I had heard Ken Hanke kvetch and gripe about two years ago, so the idea of having to sit through its sequel seemed anything but desirable.
When I actually did plop down to screen Harald Zwart’s Pink Panther 2, I was a bit surprised—and maybe a teensy bit worried—when about 10 minutes into the film I thought to myself, “This isn’t so bad. It definitely isn’t good, but I’ve seen much, much worse.” The only problem is the movie isn’t 10 minutes long; it’s 92 minutes. And instead of stopping while ahead, it just continued to snowball into a relentless Steve Martin-created avalanche of obnoxious idiocy.
Besides the annoyingly phony Italian accent Andy Garcia affects throughout the film and the pink tutu Alfred Molina adorns, no one in the film’s all-star cast—which also includes Lily Tomlin, John Cleese, Jeremy Irons and Emily Mortimer—ever really embarrasses themselves, as one might expect (though, of course, they are in the movie). Really, the blame lies squarely at the feet of star and cowriter Martin, with his asinine, often overbearing style of humor. It’s Martin who spoils this movie’s shot at ever soaring to the majestic heights of mediocrity. Instead, the entire exercise is about as substantial as Twinkie filling.
The setup is simple. There’s some long-missing international super-thief named The Tornado who suddenly reappears and snatches priceless artifacts from around the Eastern hemisphere, including the Pink Panther diamond. A “Dream Team” of investigators from England, Italy and Japan are brought in to track down the items, with the bumbling Frenchman Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Martin) leading the way.
The movie then turns into a series of set pieces where Clouseau bungles and blunders his way towards embarrassment with the kind of exhausted slapstick that would make Mr. Bean groan, before making everything right in the final act. It’s just one unimaginative gag after unoriginal pratfall, with the minutiae occasionally broken up by Clouseau’s gratingly cheesy French accent.
As a whodunit, the movie’s pointless (you can probably figure out the outcome the moment the perpetrator waltzes onto the set). As a showcase for Martin’s comedic stylings, the movie should be burned. The issue doesn’t even completely boil down to how unfunny Martin is in full-on attention-getting mode, but rather how little fun anyone seems to be having in this movie. For the raucous farce Pink Panther 2 is supposed to be, everyone involved seems to be tired or bored. I’m not sure I can blame them, however—I felt the same way watching the damned thing. Rated PG for some suggestive humor, brief mild language and action.