wogma rating: Watch if you have nothing better to do (?)
Steve Martin reprises the role of Inspector Clouseau and it is a debacle all the way.Read more
Steve Martin is back again as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in the Pink Panther 2, in what seems to be a really ridiculous attempt to keep the franchise going. Right at the onset, I must confess that I am not a great fan of Steve Martin.
Yes, I have seen some of his films; Sgt Bilko, The Father of the Bride are the names that come to mind. I have also seen Planes, Trains, and Automobiles as well as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. As films I enjoyed the last two more, primarily because you had John Candy and Michael Caine respectively, acting in them. But Steve Martin had never really left an impression on me with respect to his comic abilities.
The role of the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau was initially played by the great comic genius, Peter Sellers, in five films, all directed by Blake Edwards. Some of the films were really funny, with Sellers in great form, as the French Detective. So it was very difficult to watch Steve Martin enact the character and not compare it with Seller’s version, even though one knows that comparisons might prove to be inherently unfair.
(I believe that Steve Martin has been crying himself hoarse saying that he has not played Clouseau as Sellers would have done, but instead interpreted it differently).
The plot is shopworn and is a reworking of the earlier Pink Panther films. The supporting cast are all fine actors with the likes of Andy Garcia, Alfredo Molina, Lily Tomlin, Jean Reno, and heaven help us, Jeremy Irons. They have absolutely nothing to do in the film except look foolish and irritated at alternate intervals. Yes, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is there too, as Sonia, but she is mainly kept in the background. John Cleese plays Dreyfuss, Clouseau’s boss (a role made famous by Herbert Lom in the original Pink Panther films) and he is completely wasted too.
The screenplay really lets the film down; it is extremely predictable and seems to consist only of the gags. When it tries to do other things, it ends up creating the character of Mrs. Berenger (played by Lily Tomlin) who tries to teach Clouseau political correctness. This could have been the basis of a whole set of witty dialogues / situations parodying today’s world, but no, what we get instead are very banal and boring situations.
Steve Martin struts around through a series of set piece slapstick gags, but the gags are flat and insipid. There is not a single gag that makes you laugh hilariously; you have Martin as the Pope, you have Martin choosing wine, you have Martin investigating a large mansion, you have Martin as a flamenco dancer, and you have Martin practicing karate with his side kick’s children (another reworking from the original Peter Seller’s films), but it all comes across as extremely labored. The most irritating thing about Martin is his accent; with Sellers, the faux French accent was hilarious, with Martin it is the equivalent of a red, itchy rash that one would like to get rid of post haste. Martin maintains an immobile visage, his face frozen into something between a pout and a sneeze. The climax is as hackneyed as the rest of the movie, with Martin jumping and dodging various objects.
Slapstick routines require terrific physicality as in a Buster Keaton or a Charlie Chaplin; Martin unfortunately just does not have it. He also does not have the superb timing, the confidence, and the varied body language that Peter Sellers' Clouseau had; neither is Martin a master of disguise. Martin comes across as a total chump busy clowning around desperately in order to attract attention. (Or is that his interpretation of Clouseau?) The film is a total bummer; the only sounds of laughter were from a bunch of ten year olds in the theatre. I would like to think that they laughed the loudest when Martin was getting the worst of it. Need anything more be said?
PS It was a pleasure to hear the theme music again: the only saving grace of the film is the excellent background score by Christophe Beck.
This article is by guest author Anand S. Anand lives in Pune and is a Miscellaneous Culture Vulture. He is deeply interested in music, food, books, films, and intelligent women. He views himself as a Falstaffian figure, who does his best to indulge his appetites.
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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.
A series of brazen art thefts have been carried out by a master criminal and a dream team of detectives including Clouseau attempt to catch the thief.
A scene where Inspector Clouseau and the English detective try to go one up on each other to demonstrate their powers of deduction, somewhat funny.