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PINK PANTHER, THE

SYNOPSIS:
A world-famous French soccer coach is murdered on the field and his priceless ring is stolen - a ring set with the giant pink diamond known as the Pink Panther. French Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) needs a bumbling detective on the case, not to solve the crime but so he can do that and take the credit himself. He recruits Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin), the bumbling cop from the provinces and promotes him to Inspector as part of his scheme. A stunning pop star (Beyoncé Knowles),a soccer player, a Chinese assassin - who committed the crime? Clouseau and his partner, Ponton (Jean Reno), are keen to unmask the murderer but it's hard when you're so clueless.

Review by Louise Keller:
Steve Martin and Jean Reno dressed in jumpsuits to match the wallpaper gyrate a frenetic dance in a swish Paris ballroom. Ooo la la! I wish there were more incongruous and absurd moments like this in Shawn Levy's The Pink Panther. Of course, the film has a lot to live up to and the idea of the casting of Steve Martin and Kevin Kline works better in theory than in execution. While Peter Seller's brilliantly blundering Inspector Clouseau evolved organically, Martin's beret-toting newly promoted small-town cop is a caricature. He is not so much eccentric, but a Francophile version of a Ben Stiller-like character.

There are some good ideas: like Clouseau playing good cop, bad cop routine on his own (although it doesn't play as funny as it sounds), and Clive Owen's cameo as agent 006 drinking his flaming cocktail Mojito in the casino. The humour is of the visual and slapstick variety as we watch Clouseau fumble and bumble. But the film feels too structured, too planned, too predictable and the laughs don't come as naturally as they should.

The French accents are like pastries in a patisserie - all different sizes and textures. Martin's is stylized albeit at times entertaining, as his rubber lips attempts theatrical versions of French vowels. In a running gag, before going to New York to keep a watchful eye on Beyonce Knowles' diamond-loving diva, Clouseau is sent to an accent coach, determined to work on his English pronunciation. 'I would like to buy a hamburger' is the phrase to be perfected, and while there is a pay off, some may argue it does not warrant the cost of a big Mac. Kline's accent as the transparently ambitious Chief Inspector Dreyfus is inconsistent, but not unlike the one he sported in French Kiss. And Kline plays it for laughs. Jean Reno, however, delivers the real thing, playing his second class detective dead straight and in doing so, brings the film's only touch of pathos.

This remake is a sorry disappointment, but Paris has never looked more ravishing and there's nothing hackneyed about Henry Mancini's unforgettable Pink Panther theme.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
We are often warned against trying to recreate moments that have burned themselves into our memories with the golden haze of nostalgia. That day at Annot, the little French village with the travelling cheese salesman in a converted ice cream van, who includes a free bottle of table red with the cheese you buy ... Go back and you risk the downer of disappointment because the ambiance isn't the same, the mood is different, the cheese van isn't there and they're digging up the village square with jackhammers, so you can't even sit at that café on the corner.

Such is the story of films like The Pink Panther, a return to the 1963 film starring Peter Sellers and David Niven (it was primarily a star vehicle for the latter, by the way, and Sellers picked up a role meant for Peter Ustinov). That's two generations ago, and what was the equivalent of a colourful, rustic cheese van then is now a very cheesy, plastic truck with oversize wheels and fake garlic fronds.

To say that Steve Martin has miscalculated here is a kind way of saying this is the most boring and shallow comedy since You and Your Stupid Mate. Just about everything about this film is pathetically feeble, from the central failure to realise the Clouseau character as a genuine comedic monster, to the wasted talents of Kevin Kline (as Dreyfus) dithering between French and English accents and mannerisms, to the inept script and the dull direction.

Clouseau was a unique creation of Sellers'; it cannot be photocopied any more successfully than a fifty dollar bill. Only Beyonce Knowles in her small role and the remarkable Jean Reno as Clouseau's side kick (planted by Dreyfus) are bearable to watch. Even the prat falls are tired in this screenplay of minor comic proportions, while some of the jokes are simply embarrassingly weak.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 1

PINK PANTHER, THE (PG)
(US, 2005)

CAST: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Beyonce Knowles, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Henry Czerny

PRODUCER: Robert Simonds

DIRECTOR: Shawn Levy, Ivan Reitman

SCRIPT: Len Blum, Steve Martin (characters Maurice Richlin, Blake Edwards)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jonathan Brown

EDITOR: George Folsey jnr, Brad E. Wilhite

MUSIC: Christoph Beck (theme Henry Mancinci)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lilly Kilvert

RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 9, 2006







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