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"The Pink Panther"

Directed by Shawn Levy.
Written by Len Blum and Steve Martin.  Based on the film series created by Blake Edwards.
Starring Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Jean Reno and Beyoncé Knowles.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  2/13/06

Folks--

When I first saw the trailer for this film, late summer 2005, I thought for sure this was going to be complete dogshit.  Even the trailer didn't have the "that's going to be the only funny scene in THAT movie" scene; star Steve Martin--taking over the Peter Sellers role of Inspector Jacques Clouseau--was not funny, Kevin Kline wasn't funny, and even the fact that crazy-hot Beyoncé was in this and I didn't want to see it was shocking.  Then, it hit me:  the remake of "The Pink Panther" had all the makings of a train wreck.

So, thanks to the snow gods, I was stuck with hitting the theater within walking distance of my house today, and in doing that I was left with "Firewall" or "The Pink Panther"...but, with a chance at a Hard Vice, I felt compelled to check this thing out.

This go-round, Inspector Clouseau is brought in to investigate the murder of the French national team's soccer coach (uncredited Jason Statham), who was killed by someone following a match on the field...while he was wearing the Pink Panther Diamond on his hand!!  The suspects are many--the coach's pop singer girlfriend (Beyoncé, admirably playing a role based on her real-life occupation), a couple of star players on the team, a diamond cutter, and the team's Russian trainer (Henry Czerny).  Clouseau, aided by another French detective (Jean Reno, the only actual French guy in the movie, I think), goes through the motions trying to apprehend the criminal; meanwhile, his boss--the director of the Paris police force (Kevin Kline)--is hoping that Clouseau will bungle the investigation so that he can swoop in and make the final arrest to earn a high-fallutin city award.

Slapstick is the name of the game here, and while Martin has majored in that department for the better part of the last 30 years, his game is off in "The Pink Panther" mostly in trying to take the Sellers routine for this character and updating it to the here-and-now...and, it didn't work, at least for me.  My audience, on the other hand, seemed to be enjoying themselves, most notably the kids, who seemed happy to watch Martin fall all over himself all movie long.  Add in the ridiculous facial expressions, and anyone under 10 was having a ball.  The story for this film was bad, but not as bad as many of the 30-seconds-too-long sight gags; as an example, watching Clouseau park his SmartCar (the European car that is just big enough for a driver and a a purse in the "trunk") in a parking space big enough for a stretch limo was funny...until he bumped his car into the ones in front of, and behind, his car, oh, FIVE times.

I can't figure out why Sellers doing the same thing would be funny to me but why Martin wasn't funny; this is my problem with many of these remakes, because I can't always get the original out of my head.  Run-on jokes plague this film, although it works in the film's only truly great sequence, where Clouseau has to work with a dialect coach in order to learn how to say the phrase "I want to order a hamburger" in perfect American English intonation...wow, that was great.  By the time he gets to hamburger, even Scrooge would be rolling over that one.  The only other time I can remember laughing?  When the pop singer invites Clouseau up to her apartment for dinner, and Clouseau partner offers the advice "Be careful...it could be a set-up"; Clouseau's response?  "Who cares?"  Beautiful, funny, and absolutely logical.  So what if you are walking to your death?

It's Beyoncé, fool!!!

Otherwise, I was mostly sitting in my chair amused, not actually opening my mouth to laugh.  It was also strange to see a star with the wattage and much-publicized picky nature of Clive Owen to show up in a cameo for this film...what the fuck is he doing in this movie?  The scenery was pretty, but I couldn't tell how much of it was actually shot in France, since the credits indicate photography from France, Rome, and the Czech Republic, in addition to shots on location in New York City.  Hey, who knows?  I know this much:  "The Pink Panther" was long, and some of that was just the feeling that came from sitting in a comedy and not laughing.  It was like that last half-hour of "Wedding Crashers", where I couldn't check my watch more often than I already was.

I'm sure that this flick made a ton of cash this weekend, and the worse thing that will come out of this for us?  A sequel will certainly be in the works.  Ugh...

Rating:  Rental

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09