In 2009, Steve Martin returns to the screen as the world's most famous fumbling French detective, Insp. Jacques Clouseau, in The Pink Panther 2. This time around, European director Harald Zwart has Clouseau chasing down the Tornado, a world class thief that specializes in stealing priceless historical artifacts -- including, of course, the film's namesake, France's most beautiful and treasured fictional gem, the Pink Panther diamond.
When a series of thefts sweep the globe, France, Britain, Italy and Japan form a dream team of super-sleuths dubbed, well... The Dream Team. The team is composed of British detective Pepperidge (Alfred Molina), Italian investigator Vicenzo (Andy Garcia) and Japanese whiz kid Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki). Emily Mortimer and Jean Reno are here too, reprising their roles from the previous film. Replacing Kevin Kline as series regular Chief Inspector Dreyfus is Monty Python alumnus John Cleese. Throw in small roles for Lily Tomlin and Jeremy Irons and you've got a pretty impressive cast.
Unfortunately, that's part of the reason why I was so disappointed with this movie. I am a big fan of all of these actors, especially Cleese, Reno, Irons, and Martin. I love Steve Martin. LOVE him. However, this movie is far from any of their best work. There isn't much comedic chemistry within the Dream Team. Jean Reno's portrayal of Ponton is fun but given very limited screen time. The same goes for Jeremy Irons, who is in only one scene and doesn't really do anything of value in it. It's not all bad news though, John Cleese is as hilarious as ever and I really enjoyed Martin and Tomlin's scenes. Their performances weren't amazing, but the two of them got a few chuckles out of me.
There really isn't too much more to tell you about the story here. It is rather simplistic, and predictable. I can proudly state that I accurately predicted who the bad guy was in the scene where said character is introduced. Don't take my word for it though, it's really not that hard to figure out.
I can't help but think that a better director may have been able to get a bit more out of this material. Harald Zwart relies too much on cultural stereotypes to create humor. I love politically incorrect humor when it's done right. Here, it's more annoying than anything as Zwart plays on some of the most common stereotypes in an uninspired way. We get it -- French people with thick accents sound hilarious when speaking English. I was tired of the bad accents 15 minutes into the movie, and the entire movie is nothing but bad accents.
I apologize if I've given you the impression that I hated this film, I didn't. Don't get me wrong, The Pink Panther 2 has some genuinely funny moments in it. It's just too bad that they are few and far between. If you have the opportunity to see The Pink Panther 2 for free, or perhaps in a few years' time you come across it while flipping through the movie channels, then I'd recommend watching it. I don't, however, recommend you pay to see this movie.