The Pink Panther

2006-07-13 10:32


In this "prequel" to the original Pink Panther series, Jacques Clouseau (played here by Steve Martin) is summoned from the remote village where he serves as the local gendarme (and laughing stock) to crack the biggest case of the decade. France's national football coach has been murdered and his famous diamond ring - the "Pink Panther" - has been stolen. But why would Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) choose a bumbling yokel to handle such a case? Well, to give his own team room to solve the mystery while Clouseau's ineptitude serves as a smokescreen, of course. But Dreyfus has underestimated Clouseau's deductive powers, not to mention his blind luck.


Mainstream Hollywood is currently in the grip of a steadily worsening case of Remake Fever, desperately digging up dated and mediocre material like Yours, Mine and Ours and The Honeymooners in the hope of making a quick buck. But none of these projects are as crass, ill-conceived, and, above all, unnecessary as The Pink Panther.

The original Blake Edwards comedies, starring comic genius Peter Sellers, occupy a very special space in many people's hearts. They are by no means great works of art (a couple aren't even very good movies), but they gave birth to one of comedy's greatest characters: the iconic Inspector Jacques Clouseau.

Watching the original films today, you are struck by how creaky and conventional the machinery of the films is, how mired in the conventions of '60s farce they are. Only the incomparable Sellers has not dated. His effortless comic timing, his sense of space and rhythm and his deep understanding of the absurd mean that Clouseau is as funny as ever. Time is perhaps the greatest test of comedy, and the 30-year gap has not blunted Sellers' humour one bit.

Steve Martin, on the other hand, has never been anything but blunt. A broad, stagey comedian, Martin is the polar opposite of Sellers. Both may be physical comedians, but to compare them is to compare a figure skater to an ice hockey player. Sellers' Clouseau was a buffoon, but a dignified, serious, straight-laced buffoon. He was never aware of his own ridiculousness - quite the opposite - and that was a vital part of what made him funny. Martin's Clouseau is terminally self-aware, and his strained antics have the undignified desperation of a performing seal.

As tempting as it is to dismiss the filmmakers as ham-fisted, money-grubbing hacks seeking to trade on a long-dead franchise, it's also not entirely fair. It's very clear that many of the cast and crew, including the writers, producers and director Shawn Levy, hold the original films in high esteem.

But while they haven't set out to plunder them, that is what they have inevitably ended up doing. This is due to lack of ability more than anything else. Head producer Robert Simonds has built a career on broad, formulaic comedies like the smash hit Cheaper By the Dozen. His is not a company that understands or cares about subtlety. This is borne out by his choice of Levy as director and Martin as lead.

The supporting cast does not help the movie's case. The usually excellent Kevin Kline struggles with a bad French accent, not to mention a badly written part. Beyonce "where's that auto-cue" Knowles peddles her usual "I'm a sexy star so I don't gotta act" routine (including a contractually mandated music video). The lovely Emily Mortimer has some engaging moments as Nicole, but without a strong foil her subtle talents dissipate into the background. Only the wonderful Jean Reno seems to realise how undignified the proceedings are, but his performance is as metronomic and professional as always.

As broad comedy goes, we've all seen worse than this new Pink Panther. Martin may not be Sellers, but people who have never seen the original films (or those who hated them) may find his antics amusing. If Just Married is your idea of hilarious, then this Panther will tickle your funny bone. But anyone who cares at all about the classic Panthers should stay well away. To endure Martin prancing around wearing Clouseau's character like an ill-fitting suit is as painful as watching a library of books being burnt for fuel.

- Alistair Fairweather

Steve Martin proves once and for all that the Pink Panther films can never be successfully remade. Fans of the original movies should avoid this travesty at all costs.

Phil 2006/03/09 9:59 AM
Why ? Why did they have to come up with this trash ?,it's an insult to the intelligence in every way.The real Pink Panther movies can never be remade with any dignity especially from some Hollywood trash studio.I "borrowed" this DVD from a flea market,saw it and hated it.So what if it's piracy,it saved me wasting money on this pile of sh1t.None the less,local fans will no doubt love it and find it "brilliant" or "lekka naais".......good 'ol SA movie audiences,no taste as always.
Lauren 2006/03/09 11:00 AM
The Pink Panther Steve Martin could never come close to Peter Sellers. The original Pink Panther movies are classics and I don't believe that this new Pink Panther should ever have been made.
ludo 2006/03/09 12:21 PM
phil - the insult of intelligence phil you have a lot to say about sa movie audiences and their bad taste. wether I like this movie or not, and I suspect I will because I have not had the oppertunity to watch one of the originals, at least I will pay to watch it, and not pirate it. I think that makes me more intelligent than you anyway since Iknow that stealing is wrong. S o actually you are the insult to SA MOVIE AUDIENCES, who pays money for what they want to see and even if it means that you sometimes feel the movie was not worth it, you had a choice in the first place, did you not?
Maggie 2006/03/09 4:15 PM
Bernard de Villiers 2006/03/09 6:37 PM
Pink Panther It's an insult to Sellers and Edwards.
Phil 2006/03/09 7:17 PM
Well.... Bernard has it spot on,Maggie obviously has taste.And Ludo way too much time.Since you never had the "oppertunity"(sic) to see the original then you have no point of reference to judge this pathetic attempt at a remake,i'm sure you'll love it out of pure ignorance.Kudos on being more intelligent,i hope it helps you choose the right Leon Schuster DVD in the CNA,tough choice there.You have to call a spade a spade,and this is a sh1t movie.
Rob D 2006/03/09 7:54 PM
Only in Hollywood Only they can butcher a classic.I think all the intelligent people like Ludo will love this schlock.A sad sad thing.
Neil Swanepoel 2006/03/09 10:04 PM
Mr I would rather collect ants than go and watch that movie. The Pink Panther series belongs to Peter Sellers (may he rest in peace) and Herbert Lom
claire holloway 2006/03/12 12:56 PM
there s hope an excellent story about a american teenager(hilary duff)and her mother is looking for love in all the wrong places so every time she gets dumped they move to anothe state so holly(hilary duff) does something so that she can live a normal life the perfect man
Angelo Kehayas 2006/03/12 2:37 PM
CEO I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and make a point of seeing all movies lambasted by the critics. They generally get it soooo wrong. If I see a rating of 9/10 I avoid it like the plague. I believe the critics' review is generally totally off the mark for the average public. Get some critics who have normal tastes. Absolutely. If it made my wife laugh, it is worth seeing.
wandile 2006/03/12 5:55 PM
What a lovely movie The movie is so nice and funny. I recomend it, and will watch it all over again. I dont know about the old movie I've never seen it. pink panther
Mikey 2006/03/13 12:02 AM
Well..... I think that comment about some SA audiences being ignorant and having little class and knowledge of anything except Hollywood junk has just been proven. Sad,no wonder they all love the Leon Shuster junk.Ignorance is bliss i suppose. What a way to kill a classic :(
cliffie 2006/03/13 12:10 AM
no way i saw all of the originals and last night i saw this.ok it has to be the worst crap out there,how anyone with half a brain can think steve martin is even half funny as cluseau is a total moron,and anyone that hasnt seen any of the originals is an even bigger moron.THIS BLOWS!!
jacob 2006/03/13 8:46 AM
pink panther tsotsi tsotsi
Rene 2006/03/13 4:11 PM
Pink Panther It was brilliant! Very funny - best comedy I have seen in a while Yes
Dean 2006/03/16 10:33 AM
Pink Panther Pathetic No
Jean-Paul 2006/03/17 8:26 AM
Decades Away I think that if you are ancient enough to have actually seen the original movies when they first came out...then perhaps this remake is not for you. But for those of us who havnt seen the originals, or like me only saw them a few years back, this new chapter in the lovable Pink Panther story is unique and wonderful. While anyone will agree that Steve Martin is no Peter Sellers, he brings something new to a character that we all know and love. Steve is undeniably funny in his own way. walking into this film and expecting to see a Peter sellers performance will no doubt lead to dissapointment. While an open mind and a love for comedy will have you falling from your seat...tears of laughter falling from your eyes, and you falling for Steve Martin as the new Pink Panther... Definately
Toni 2006/03/24 6:53 PM
The Pink Panth WOW! It was so funny I was on the edge of my seat. Yes I would highly recommend it -but that is if you are in the mood for laughter
utfer 2006/03/27 7:28 PM
pink pamther gxdhchju
Lynette van der Merwe 2006/03/28 8:42 PM
Pink Panther Rocks! I've watched the new Pink Panther movie twice al ready, and both times I laughed 'till my head hurt! I'll even go watch it again! So I say that this movie is really hilarious... Steve Martin does a teriffic french accent and he shows to all people that he can act like an idiot! If you are in the mood for a GOOD laugh, go see the Pink Panther!
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