07 February 2009

The Pink Panther 2

The Pink Panther 2
Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Alfred Molina, John Cleese
Michael H. Weber, Scott Neustadter & Steve Martin
Harald Zwart
Released: 02.06.09
MGM, Rated PG, 92 mins.,

*1/2 (out of ****)

Maybe it was because I had a dodgy week when Steve Martin's 2006 "re-imagining" of The Pink Panther was released, but I found the film to be a laugh-a-minute, ingenius riot. And no, that's not sarcasm. I genuinely loved that flick, and to this day, I still think it's extremely funny. And for some reason, I appear to be the only bloke in the U.S. who thinks so (though, of course, my lack of seeing the original Peter Sellars Pink Panthers could very well explain why I'm not one of those people ready to burn Martin alive for this 'terrible disgrace' to the franchise). So it was with great anticipation for the seemingly very-rushed sequel to hit theaters, and unfortunately, it doesn't hit the level of hilarious excellence of the 'first'.

Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Martin) has followed up his legendary save of the Pink Panther Diamond with writing parking tickets, so geniusly assigned to him by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Cleese), who isn't exactly Clouseau's biggest fan. Meanwhile, treasures from around the world have been stolen by a stealer dude named the Tornado. Immediately, a "dream team" of international detectives is assembled to capture him and return all the stolden goods. Of course, Clouseau being the man who single-handedly saved the Pink Panther diamond, he's recruited to the team. And pretty much instantaneously (in a scene that did elicit a laugh), the diamond has been stolen again. Thus the Dream Team, with Clouseau, embark on a investigative journey to locate the Tornado, find the diamond, and bring him to justice!

Sounds like a plot that could have plenty of funnyness, yeah? Well, sadly, no. There are about two sequences that really had me laughing - like Pink Panther '06-laughing (which was loud, and a lot). Sadly, they were far and in-between. Some of the jokes brought a chuckle, most brought about a small giggle. Otherwise, Pink Panther 2 wasn't even in the same league as the first one, which is unfortunate (and remember, this is coming from a bloke who dug the Steve Martin re-imagining). Though, I surprisingly do have to agree with a great many of the commentators when they say that Martin appears to be trying too hard to get a laugh; the previous movie, everything seemed rather effortless, and this time, it's painfully obvious he's dishing out all the tricks he can possibly do to make the audience get with the 'ha, ha, ha-ing.' Actually, the best way to describe this version of funny would be to say that it's very cartoonish. And that just reminded me of something else - the cartoon credit sequence pales in comparison to the '06 installment; serious lack of funny.

But Steve Martin himself, I still dig as Inspect Clouseau. People may rag on him for his crappy accent, but I find it funny. My once stern stance that I'd watch Martin in nearly anything truly is put to the test here as sometimes his antics are pure ridiculous. Jean Reno, who will forever be the French man from Roland Emmerich's disastrous crap-fest GODZILLA (1998), is barely in the film, which is unfortunate because he has some great comic-timing. Oh, and I gotta mention John Cleese (or as I see it, 'that Rat Race dude!') as Dreyfus: I love the guy - honestly - but Kevin Kline was so bloody funny in the first. However, Cleese might've one-uped Kline if he was actually given some more stuff to do. Dreyfus has barely any screentime whatsoever, which is highly unfortunate.

On the technical side, let's address the script: nothing you haven't seen before. Though, I do sorta like the concept of the 'Dream Team' who assemble to find the culprit behind these attacks; that's sorta nifty. However, once certain characters are introduced, you know the goodies and the baddies. Though, truthfully, there was a twist here and there that I was genuinely taken aback by, which was a pleasant surprise. Directing-wise, it is, of course, very point-and-shoot. It's a popular move with comedies, it seems.

If you had no interest in 2006's Pink Panther re-imagining, you might as well skip it's sequel. For us small minority who loved the film, this one isn't nearly as good as the first, but it has its moments of funness. Plus, how can one resist the whole "hamburger" dabolcal? That stuff still cracks me up no matter what. Er, anyway, if you weren't swayed to see the first one (which is superior), don't bother with this. If a third is produced (and despite my non-love for this installment), you'd better bet I'd be there opening day.

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