Look. This movie is not the worst movie ever made. It has the odd laugh. It's just not brilliant. And it's even more obviously not brilliant when you compare it to the original Peter Sellers' Pink Panther movies. But you know what? Let's cut it some slack. The original Panther flicks were Pure Class. Saying these remakes are not as good is like saying that Tsotsi is a worse film than Kung Fu Hustle. It's a meaningless statement beacuse every movie is worse than Kung Fu Hustle.
What we have here is Steve Martin as bumbling French idiot, Inspector Clousseau, playing the Sellars part with an Allo Allo accent and happily tripping over furniture and into women with gay abandon. He is commissioned by the Chief of Police, Kevin Kline in the Herbert Lom part, to catch an infamous thief. As his right-hand man, he has "Ponton" - a new character played by Jean Reno. The eye-candy is Beyonce and no, dear reader, there is no Burt Kwouk replacement. NO KATO. I was sad to realise that Jackie Chan had not finally taken up the role. I love KATO. I used to go to restaurents in Chinatown just because Burt Kwouk had recommended them in TIME OUT. Burt Kwouk was the only reason I used to tune in to Harry Hill. But you know, upon reconsideration, I am pleased that the memory of Kato is unsullied.
You get a lot of slapstick comedy, some of which works, most of which doesn't. You get some jingoistic comedy at the expense of the French. We Brits have been doing this for centuries, and believe me, we can come up with better stuff. Clearly all these actors are far better than the material they have been given, although I have to say that after the crimes against cinema that were Cheaper by the Dozen and Shopgirl, I am starting to have my doubts about Steve Martin. Alls I hope is that they were paid a whole lot and can now "afford" to do some nice low-budget indie films as atonement. As I said, this is a harmless movie. But if you have one ounce of respect for Peter Sellars you'll put your money back in your pocket and rent A SHOT IN THE DARK instead.
THE PINK PANTHER opens in the UK on Friday 17th March 2006 and is already release in much of continental Europe and in the US.