Dear MGM Studios & Columbia Pictures,
Why, oh God, why did you feel it necessary to subject audiences to another Pink Panther remake? Isn't there some limit to how much you allow formerly respectable actors to humiliate themselves? I thought that Steve Martin had hit rock bottom with Cheaper by the Dozen 2, but against all odds, he proved me wrong with his mind-numbing turn as Inspector Clouseau in 2006's The Pink Panther. Just when everyone thought the hole couldn't possibly get any deeper, you guys green lit a sequel. It is difficult to describe the sense of despair I felt as I sat and watched The Pink Panther 2, but I would say it was akin to enduring twenty hours of Chinese water torture or having my skin slowly stripped away with a potato peeler.
What exactly is this film's intended audience? I considered the possibility of it being a children's movie, but after Lily Tomlin's tawdry monologue recounting a woman's "mounds" being exposed as she bent over to pick up a fallen pencil, I reconsidered. So it must be for adults? But no -- what adult of normal intelligence could stomach the countless trips and falls, electrocutions, burning curtains, fountain pen gags, and food-covered faces that masquerade as jokes?
In my opinion, what it comes down to is that the film is an anachronism -- it belongs in a more innocent time when tripping over things was considered sophisticated adult humor. What worked in the original Pink Panther movies is simply not viable comedy by today's standards. The few cheap laughs generated by the numerous slapstick pratfalls are at the expense of the intellect as any moderately seasoned moviegoer has seen these hackneyed gags over and over again. In my opinion, the jokes feel like dusty old relics that should be left alone to molder in film archives.
The worst part of all this, of course, is watching Steve Martin bumble through this production with an enthusiasm that makes me want to weep. In addition to embarrassing himself, he drags Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Jean Reno and Jeremy Irons down with him. Undoubtedly, Martin is a superior physical comedian, cast from the same mold as Buster Keaton and Peter Sellers. But what distinguished him from the pack was his unique brand of absurdism, which has been almost completely absent from his work in the last decade. Now Martin has been reduced to stealing from lesser Steve Martin. For example: at one point he dangles two children upside down from one leg, just like on the poster from his middling1989 film, Parenthood.
My dear studio executives, I beg you to end the Pink Panther series. In exchange, I will give you whatever you want: a pound of flesh, my firstborn child, a kidney even! Just please no more Inspector Clouseau! All right, maybe not seriously, but really, you must know how painful it is to see Steve Martin slowly withering away. I can hear his death rattle and it sounds a lot like a ridiculous French accent.
Elizabeth Hughes Belzil