Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Pink Panther 2 *1/2
Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer
Alfred Molina, Aishwarya Rai, Andy García, Lily Tomlin
Jeremy Irons, John Cleese
The sequel to 2006's film has Martin reprise his role as Inspector Jacques Clouseau, the least efficient police member in France who somehow lands a spot among a "dream team" assembled to find "The Tornado"; a mysterious thief who has reappeared after a decade long absence and is stealing notorious national treasures.
Clouseau's biggest worry is of course that he might steal the title diamond (which in the film is the worthiest treasure in all of France) and the plot consists of their investigation which Jacques constantly interrupts with his misadventures.
A few things are given for granted upon watching this film, first is the fact that Steve Martin is arguably one of the greatest comedic geniuses in history who can travel from sophisticated, clever existentialism to more "mainstream", slapstick, plain silly comedy.
The second is that Jacques Clouseau is one of the funniest characters ever made, the mere idea of Peter Sellers or the frustrated cartoon version makes anyone chuckle.
The third one is that any cast that includes Martin, Irons, García, Molina, Irons, Tomlin and Cleese must be up to something good, it sounds more like a Coppola movie than a comedy...
But if you're counting on all of those things to work, there is where this movie will let you down. Most of the gags are forced; a romantic triangle between García, the luminous Mortimer and Martin comes off looking as awkward and unnecessary and there's only so far as Martin can go with his "hamburger" pronunciation skit and Clouseau's, as well as the other characters', effects on the story can be smelled miles away, a recurring line where Molina's character bets he'll do something weird if Clouseau is wrong pays off in all the wrong ways, because you know in a "Pink Panther" movie he eventually will become the hero.
In the same way the film is usually saved by the audience's hope that something will happen, Martin's little mustache is often enough to elicit giggles, that then turn into nervous chuckles while you wait for the payoff.
The big laughs never really come, but by the time you realize that the lights have turned on and you're on your way out of the theater.