The Pink Panther

The bumbling Inspector Jacques Clousseau is back, and this time the actor underneath the bad French accent is Steve Martin (Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Shopgirl). The Clousseau role does seem like a good fit for Martin, who has a gift for physical comedy and a manic energy about him, but he needs a script with some substance before attempting to do his shtick for the duration of a feature film. The Pink Panther is a tiresome and dreadfully unfunny comedy with Clousseau and Gendarme Gilbert Ponton (Jean Reno, Hotel Rwanda, Rollerball) try to hunt down the killer of famous soccer coach Yves Gluant (Jason Statham, Transporter 2, Cellular), and thief of his large pink diamond ring dubbed "the pink panther."

What Clousseau does not know is that his boss Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline, De-Lovely, The Emperor's Club) is setting him up for failure. He is supposed to bungle the investigation so that Dreyfus can swoop in later and take all of the credit. The chief suspect is Gluant's girlfriend, American popstar Xania (Beyonce Knowles, The Fighting Temptations, Austin Powers in Goldmember), but Clousseau is too smitten with her to get any work done. He is completely clueless as to what is happening around him, but of course he stumbles his way into clues and breakthroughs. Martin co-wrote the script with Len Blum (Private Parts, Beethoven's 2nd) and Michael Saltzman, and feels like a good idea stretched beyond its ability to amuse.

This is the big reason that The Pink Panther doesn't work. This would be great as a skit on Saturday Night Live with Martin, but under the direction of Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen, Just Married) the plot limps along, more of a setup for additional gags than anything else. Because of this, Martin's faux French accent and constant tripping become highly annoying. This is really sad given that he is funny at certain times. There is just too much with not enough substance behind the hijinks to make anybody care. Knowles still has yet to prove that she can act. Here, her job is to smile a lot and to try to stay inside her dresses. What is really sad is seeing great actors like Kline, Reno, and Emily Mortimer (Match Point, Dear Frankie) suffer through such idiotics. Thankfully, it ends relatively quickly and none of the filmmakers touched Henry Mancini's classic theme.
Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 33 minutes, Rated PG for occasional crude and suggestive humor and language.

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