Wednesday, February 04, 2009

PINK PANTHER 2: More Martin Madness

PINK PANTHER 2 (comedy)
Cast: Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Lily Tomlin, John Cleese and Jeremy Irons
Director: Harald Zwart

Time: 92 mins

Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

PREAMBLE: They say that a family's hard-earned wealth usually gets squandered and lost by its third generation. Does this apply to movie comedies too? In its heyday in the Sixties, starting from The Pink Panther (1963), Blake Edwards' bumbling French Inspector Clouseau series was Hollywood's comedy hit for more than a decade, launching the career of Peter Sellers (especially with the 1964 A Shot In The Dark) and giving rise to many TV cartoon series and brand merchandising.

With Sellers' death in 1980, Pink Panther movies continued with other actors like Roger Moore playing Clouseau (in the 1983 Curse Of The Pink Panther) but they were more like disasters. In 1993 Edwards again tried to revive the series with Son Of The Pink Panther, starring Roberto Benigni as Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli (Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son by Maria Gambrelli, the murder suspect from A Shot in the Dark). However, instead of reviving the franchise, named after a 'flawed' pink diamond, it 'ended' it.

In 2006, the 'second generation' Pink Panther began with Steve Martin (pictured) playing Clouseau and Kevin Kline as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. Although it was not a remake of the original Pink Panther, it reintroduced Clouseau and the famous diamond to a new audience and grossed US$158 million (RM571 million) worldwide, necessitating this sequel. However, unlike Batman Returns, which 'revitalised' the franchise with new ideas, motivations and gave it a darker tone, all the 'second generation' Pink Panther offered was Steve Martin impersonating Sellers and copying his bad French accent. Those who had not been accustomed to Sellers' Clouseau may find Martin funny. But not for long. Pink Panther 2 offers more of the same, with more misses than hits.

THE SKINNY: The plot deals with the theft of priceless treasures from the world's
museums – the Magna Carta, the Shroud Of Turin and the Japanese emperor's sword – by a thief called The Tornado. Anticipating that the Pink Panther diamond will be next, the French authorities want Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese) to assign Clouseau to a dream team of the world's top detectives to catch the thief. Thus we have Vicenzo (Andy Garcia) from Italy, Pepperidge (Alfred Molina) from England, and Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki) from Japan. They are joined by the beautiful Sonia (Aishwarya Rai), an expert on the life of the Tornado.

HITS AND MISSES: Those who expect interesting twists and witty resolutions in the plot are obviously in the wrong movie. Director Harald Zwart seem
more concerned with displaying Martin's antics as parking cop, secret admirer of his assistant Nicole (Emily Mortimer) and idiotic detective than in developing the stolen treasures plot. To be fair, some of Clouseau's shenanigans are fun if not riotously funny (as in the restaurant and Vatican sequences). Compared to the 2006 movie, this sequel has a bit more substance.

This time around, however, Martin has quite a 'dream team' of supporting stars, namely, Lily Tomlin as Clouseau's political correctness
trainer, Garcia as his love rival, Jeremy Irons as a vital suspect and Aishwarya as the mysterious beauty. Jean Reno returns as Clouseau's aide Ponton but he is largely wasted here, while Beyonce chose not to return for this sequel after having read the screenplay.

THE LOWDOWN: Pink Panther 2 will probably coast along on Martin's popularity but I don't see it going into a third generation. Not unless it gets a shot
of new blood.

2 Comments:

At 12:07 pm, Blogger Arivind Abraham said...

In response to your question, 3 outta 4 for Slumdog. Story is OK, visuals are stunning.

 
At 9:03 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

thanks, arivind.

 

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