Starring: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Jean Reno
Director: Shawn Levy
Running Time: 93 mins
The Pink Panther is an American film about bumbling French police inspector Jacques Clouseau, who is assigned the task of solving the murder of the French football manager during an international match.
Remaking classic movies is always a minefield, but when you’re remaking a film that features such an iconic performance as Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau, it can be very difficult to come out successfully. On the whole, The Pink Panther is a mess, and as much as Steve Martin tries to respect and rework Sellers’ character, it never comes across well. Meanwhile, the film is plagued by shoddy comedy, poor directing and an uninteresting story, as well as a confused balance between kids’ and adult humour, making it a generally disappointing watch.
Let’s start with the man at the centre: Steve Martin. A comedic legend in every way, it’s a real shame to see that his performance here just doesn’t work. Of course, with the shadow of Sellers’ iconic take on Clouseau ever-present when watching this film, it’s always difficult for Martin to get you on side, but the fact remains that this does feel like a knock-off rather than a successful remake.
Although the jokey accent is pretty much spot-on, Martin plays Clouseau like he’s in a Carry On film, and doesn’t have the charm and wit of Sellers. Throughout, the character is more annoying than anything, and unlike Sellers, who you could laugh heartily at while still supporting him, Martin is never an appealing bumbling hero for our story, taking the best part from the originals out of this remake.
Another big problem with this film is its brand of comedy. Originally, The Pink Panther was confident in its humour, taking a series of farcical set-pieces and running as far as it could with them, whereas the newer film plays out a lot more like a family blockbuster; with one main running joke (Clouseau’s idiocy) stringing together lots of smaller gags, something that I was really disappointed to see.
However, what’s even more problematic with the comedy is how confused it is between kids’ and adult humour. The original films were full of adult humour, and although watchable for kids, definitely not meant for them. There are moments where this film has flickers of that, whilst also carrying of an Austin Powers-like adult farce, but it’s also hugely watered-down in comparison to the originals, creating a frustrating difference.
Now, this is apparently down to the fact that the film fell into the hands of Sony when they bought MGM before release, and was subsequently subjected to heavy reshoots to make it more family-friendly, and when you watch the film, the problems resulting from that are clear as day.
Finally, the story. Now, in a film as silly as this, there’s no need for a compelling plot. The original Pink Panther movies didn’t have the greatest stories, although they did still present a degree of intrigue, as it wasn’t obvious who the perpetrator was.
Unfortunately, the plot here is extremely predictable, and makes for a hugely dull watch right from the start. Attempting to make up for the lacklustre story, we’re sent to New York City for a brief and frankly unnecessary interlude, whilst the remainder, set in the Parisian streets of Hollywood studios, is both uninteresting and lacking in charm.
Overall, The Pink Panther simply isn’t a good film. Wanting to respect Sellers, Steve Martin comes up with a disappointing take on Inspector Clouseau, whilst the rest of the film suffers heavily from a dull and predictable story, as well as an incredibly frustrating confusion between adult and kids’ humour, and that’s why I’m giving it a 4.1.