February 13, 2006

Movie Review: The Pink Panther (2006)

The much delayed new take on The Pink Panther has finally landed in theaters. After sitting through it, it probably would have been better had that landing never taken place. I just found the movie to be utterly flat, boring at times, and I just felt that it was unnecessary.

Steve Martin's Inspector Clouseau is charged with tracking down the killer of a rich soccer team owner (Jason Statham), and retrieving the stolen Pink Panther diamond. Of course, his assignment is a ploy by Chief Inspector Dreyfus, played by Kevin Kline, to divert attention so that he can solve the crime.

Dreyfus' choice of Clouseau as his patsy seems to be an inspired choice. Plucking the officer from obscurity, giving him an "Attaboy!" and the title of Inspector would seem to be enough to divert the public's eye from the real investigation. Clouseau latches on to it with manic glee and reckless abandon, turning every little mistake into a mounting catastrophe. This while his spy/partner Ponton (Jean Reno), stands by and watches the events with tired amusement. Then there is the center of the investigation, Xania (Beyonce), an international pop star that was having a relationship with the deceased.

I was just bored throughout most of the movie. It was like watching a spoof of a spoof, and it just felt tired. It was like an alternate universe version of Austin Powers. But rather than a swinging Mike Myers, we have a floundering Steve Martin.

There were a few chuckles to be had, but they were few and far between. The "hamburger" scene, glimpsed in the trailers, goes on far too long, and is revisited later on. The best sequence has to be the Clive Owen cameo, his manner and his character are perfect, and considering some real world film casting, appropriate and even more hilarious.

Martin seemed to be trying to hard at the role, everything seemed forced and unnatural. Kline doesn't fare much better. Beyonce comes out pretty much unscathed. She has a natural beauty and just lights up the screen, of course, she is essentially playing herself. Jean Reno is OK as well, he just has this tired expression, he almost seems to be contemplating just what he is doing there.

I love slapstick as much as the next guy, and all the performers involved have done good work in the past, but nothing seems to click. I really think that making another Pink Panther movie was a mistake. At least without a killer script, which this just does not have. The mystery itself was not much of one, as I pretty much had it figured out early on, with have of it being telegraphed in the pre-credits sequence. I think the previously mentioned Austin Powers films may have ruined this type of comedy for awhile.

Bottomline. Not funny, occasionally boring, and just plain not very good. I cannot recommend this film. It was all forced and unnatural. If you want to see something funny, you'll have to look elsewhere.

Not Recommended. ** / *****


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