Starring: Peter Sellers, Christopher Plummer, Herbert Lom
Director: Blake Edwards
Running Time: 112 mins
The Return Of The Pink Panther is an American film and the third in the Pink Panther series. When the iconic diamond is stolen once again by the Phantom, only the bumbling inspector Jacques Clouseau can get to the bottom of its whereabouts, despite his Chief Inspector’s repeated disapproval.
The first two Pink Panther movies are absolute comedy classics, full of superbly silly laughs from start to finish. Now, after a 9 year hiatus, the series returns, but doesn’t quite live up to the brilliance of the originals. Despite featuring some excellent performances from returning actors, as well as some decent laughs here and there, The Return Of The Pink Panther suffers from poor pacing and a sub-par story, all of which has an effect on how funny the film is.
I didn’t think this was a hugely disappointing comedy, however. Peter Sellers is excellent for the third time as Inspector Jacques Clouseau, and manages to make falling over funny once again for the first half of the movie or so. Meanwhile, Herbert Lom is hilarious again as Chief Inspector Dreyfus, whose hatred of Clouseau’s incompetence has now reached fever pitch.
Meanwhile, there are still some decent jokes from time to time. There’s nothing anywhere near as funny as the original Pink Panther, but there are definitely moments where you can have a good, silly laugh in this third movie.
Also, Blake Edwards’ directing is just as good as it was back in the 60s. Not falling victim to the generally more dour vibe of 70s comedies, Edwards retains the suave silliness that gave the originals an even more fun-loving feel, which once again means that you can find more moments of enjoyability in this film.
The big problem with The Return Of The Pink Panther is that it both fails to provide an engaging plot, something that the first two films were surprisingly excellent at, and rehashes a lot of elements from the first movie.
There’s no doubt that it’s fun to watch Peter Sellers fall over a lot, and he had miraculously kept that joke alive for two straight films, but finally, the joke wears out here. In the end, it just becomes too repetitive to see Clouseau fumbling his way through all of the crazy situations, and the laugh factor really does drop as the film goes on.
That is, however, more down to the poor plot and pacing. The original film was largely composed of 8-10 minute comedic set pieces, which managed to stay funny and entertaining because you were hooked by the tension of the story. In this film, however, the fact that the story really isn’t at all interesting means that these sorts of scenes feel much longer than they did in the first film, and there’s no real reason to be engaged in the tension when you don’t care as much about the story, and know that Sellers is going to fall over in the end.
Overall, The Return Of The Pink Panther is still a fun sequel, but far below the quality of its two predecessors. Despite some good laughs here and there, the enjoyability factor here really wears out as the film goes on, making it at times a struggle to stay engaged, and that’s why it gets a 6.8 from me.