The Pink Panther (2006) Movie Review
The full-contact humor propagated by the program obviously appeals to the masses. The simple formula has worked on Videos for 17 years now. So why, then, am I still surprised when a preview audience sitting through something as moronic as The Pink Panther bursts out laughing when a cyclist crashes into a car door or a senior citizen takes a blunt object to the skull?
My fondest memory of Blake Edwards' original Pink Panther series was Peter Sellers muttering "I have zee boom" as the fuse on the explosive device he possessed burned to its nub. Without fail, the comedian's deadpan delivery and subsequent explosion would send my father and me into hysterics. I'm glad dad's not around to witness this new Panther, Shawn Levy's clueless update of the beloved crime comedies. It seems the bomb now rests in our hands.
Edwards directed eight Panther movies, most of which were blessed with Sellers' presence and timing. As the series deteriorated over time, stand-ins were recruited to shoulder the slapstick, so audiences endured the comedic stylings of Ted Wass (Curse of the Pink Panther) or Roberto Benigni (Son of the Pink Panther, the franchise's lowest point).
Latest leading man Steve Martin, to his credit, doesn't sink as deep as the pint-sized Pinocchio, though he should have his SAG card revoked for even considering an attempt at filling Sellers' shoes. Martin plays incompetent French detective Jacques Clouseau, called in from the countryside by his superior (Kevin Kline) to serve as the fall guy in the high-profile murder investigation of a despised soccer coach (Jason Statham). Clouseau and his new partner (Jean Reno) have plenty of suspects, from the coach's pop-star girlfriend (Beyoncé Knowles) to the team's shifty athletic trainer, Yuri (Henry Czerny). Too bad bumbling Clouseau couldn't catch a monk in a monastery.
The current Levy-Martin collaboration is one of Hollywood's most foul, spawning the first Cheaper by the Dozen before turning its attention to this equally unnecessary remake. As long as Levy continues to convince the once-respected Martin to sell his soul for the sake of a paycheck, no classic film property is safe.
"Not every death is a tragedy," Clouseau is told by one suspect who fails to mourn the deceased. In addition, not every comedy is funny. Martin deserves half the blame, serving as co-screenwriter for a script that rehashes bad jokes and bogs down in painfully unfunny sequences. There are two 10-minute routines built around Clouseau's inability to say the word "hamburger." One sequence involving an egg, a cyclist, and an exploding food cart is almost too idiotic to mention. The parade of ill-conceived pratfalls parts on occasion to allow a decent joke through. A clever cameo nods to the man that could have become the next James Bond. And in one scene, Martin attempts a good-cop-bad-cop routine by himself, which is funny until he eventually electrocutes his own groin. Are we laughing yet?
One of these is a larger-than-life monument. One is not.