For decades, Hollywood has tried to continue the Pink Panther series without the legendary star, Peter Sellers. The last one was the abysmal Son of the Pink Panther from 1993, which proved that trying to revive the series was impossible without Sellers. I thought they had learned their lesson with 1983's Curse of the Pink Panther, but I guess not.
Now, more than a decade since the last attempt, Hollywood dusts off the Pink Panther and its bumbling detective. This time, Steve Martin steps into the trenchcoat of Inspector Jacques Clouseau.
The mystery surrounds the murder of a legendary French soccer coach (Jason Statham) and the disappearance of his ring, which held the Pink Panther diamond. A whole host of suspects are rounded up who all had a grudge against the coach.
Clouseau's boss Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) decides that unleashing the worst detective in all of France to solve the case will fool the press and allow him to solve the high-profile case for himself and win the French Medal of Honor.
I had feared that any more reattempts at trying to capture the magic of the original films would be pointless, but I have to say for what it is, this is a really fun and hilarious film.
This is hands-down the best Pink Panther film since 1978's Revenge of the Pink Panther. As all Panther fans know, that was the last "true" Sellers film with him in the lead role. There were two films after that with Sellers, but they were made with archival footage.
Surprisingly, the jokes are everywhere in this film and it is amazing, but the writers of this "re-imagining" of Clouseau were able to harness the true magic of the character and as well pave new territory. One of the funniest sequences was the whole "good cop/bad cop" scene, which was new to the character but something the original Clouseau probably would have done.
The comic timing, slapstick falls, and brilliant deliveries of ludicrous lines are all done with such ease by Steve Martin and his portrayal works in so many ways. I had a hard time imagining Martin as Clouseau, but that fear was quickly gone after 10 minutes into the film.
I really loved the supporting cast of Kevin Kline, Jean Reno, and Emily Mortimer. If there is ever a sequel I hope these key players all return because it is their magic that helped Martin succeed as Clouseau.
What I didn't like about the film was casting of Beyonce Knowles and Henry Czerny. Knowles is flat, uninteresting, and just used as eye-candy. I really liked the women better from the original films because there always seemed to be so much more going on with them, especially Capucine in the original The Pink Panther. As for Czerny, he is just so dull and it is like he phoned in his performance.
Martin and his three supporting characters are what make this film so brilliant, and as a die-hard Panther fan, I loved it! Hope there is a sequel. (4 out of 5) So Says the Soothsayer.