The Pink Panther – give it a miss….
Saw the (new) Pink Panther featuring Steve Martin in the role of Inspector Clouseau, last night. As a fan of the original Blake Edwards directed Pink Panther films (as well as the spin-off animation series), to say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Thankfully, we had a coupon so that only half the ticket price was paid to sit through this pain! As the film bumbled from one unfunny comic routine to another, one simply felt sorry for the distinguished cast of Martin, Kevin Kline, Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer. Martin probably gives his best shot at the role. He had very big shoes to fill and on most counts, does a good job and avoids aping the great Peter Sellers. But there is only so much you can pull off with little help from an insipid (practically non-existent) storyline, lame and predictable jokes and poor direction.
It was not even as if I had very high expectations. As mentioned in this Slate story and this NPR Weekend edition segment, Edward’s Pink Panther were never really that good or particularly funny (the ones made after Return of the Pink Panther were positively mediocre) but they had the incomparable Sellers living and breathing the role of Clouseau. Sellers’ deadpan expression while going through the absurdities made the films worth watching. Besides, at least in the first three films of the series that Sellers was involved with (there was one film in between that had Alan Arkin as Clouseau), there would be a coherent parallel storyline dealing with some sort of a mystery/whodunit in addition to the Clouseau related gags. Another problem that dooms a remake like this is that some of the original jokes would not work in today’s world – quite a few of them (especially the existense of Cato, the Chinese man-servant) would be considered racist or sexist.