The Pink Panther 1 & 2
The Pink Panther (August 13/06)
A remake that nobody really asked for, The Pink Panther is a slight yet sporadically hilarious update of the classic Peter Sellers/Blake Edwards film series. Starring Steve Martin as Jacques Clouseau, the movie follows the notoriously clumsy inspector as he attempts to solve the murder of a prominent soccer coach. With a supporting cast that includes Kevin Kline, Emily Mortimer, and Jean Reno, The Pink Panther is generally entertaining enough - although the incredibly thin storyline becomes more and more apparent as the movie progresses, particularly as the joke-to-laugh ratio begins to dwindle. Shawn Levy's bland direction undoubtedly exacerbates such problems, while it seems clear that the film would've benefited from some judicious editing (particularly around the flabby midsection, which is repetitive and often egregiously silly). Still, it's difficult not to admire Martin's gleefully over-the-top performance and there's simply no denying the strength of several of the film's comedic vignettes (the sequence in which Clouseau attaches high-voltage electrodes to his own genitals in order to demonstrate the device's effectiveness is an obvious highlight).
The Pink Panther 2
About on a par with its entertaining yet unmemorable predecessor, The Pink Panther 2 follows Steve Martin's Jacques Clouseau as he reluctantly teams up with a "dream team" of detectives - Andy Garcia's Vicenzo, Alfred Molina's Pepperidge, and Yuki Matsuzaki's Mazuto - after several priceless artifacts are stolen by a master thief known only as "The Tornado." Director Harald Zwart - working from a script by Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, and Martin - generally does a nice job of infusing The Pink Panther 2 with as unapologetically silly an atmosphere as one might've expected, although there's little doubt that more of the film's jokes fall flat than hit their mark (yet it's impossible to deny that there are several seriously funny bits of physical comedy spread thinly throughout the proceedings). Martin's energetically over-the-top work certainly plays an instrumental role in the movie's mild success, with the unusually strong supporting cast's collective efforts generally sustaining one's interest through the narrative's periodic lulls (ie John Cleese, as Clouseau's exasperated superior, is responsible for many of the movie's instances of laugh-out-loud hilarity). The almost egregiously episodic midsection - coupled with a finale that's perhaps just a little too action oriented - ultimately prevents the film from becoming anything more than a pleasantly diverting time-waster, which is, given the strength of the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers Pink Panther series, more than a little disappointing.