Film #58: The Pink Panther (2006)

Directed by: Shawn Levy
Language: English with some Chinese
Length: 93 minutes
Watched on: 23 May 2012

I’ve always been a bit apprehensive about watching this film, because following on from such a good franchise in the name of an actor like Peter Sellers is always going to be difficult. And Steve Martin doesn’t look like Inspector Clouseau, he looks like Steve Martin with a fake moustache. It’s mainly that white hair that does it.

The comedy in this film just wasn’t that funny, except for some jokes which had been taken directly from the old Sellers movies. It is of course meant to be slapstick, but it is actually possible to do slapstick well, and I don’t think this film quite managed it in many places.

Plus, something about the high production values that we’ve enjoyed in the past decade didn’t seem to mesh very well with the style of humour. When I see slapstick I guess there’s some part of me that kind of expects the production values of the 1960s.

In many senses it was very like Johnny English, which I watched the other month. It goes for very simple humour and has a singer (in this case Beyoncé, weirdly enough) trying to bolster her acting career to little avail, and then actors making fun of the French. It’s got what I’m going to assume will be looked back upon as the zeitgeist of the early 2000s, post-9/11 and pre-economic collapse. And it’s slightly difficult for me to put my finger on exactly what that is, to be honest.

On the subject of 9/11, it did lend itself to an amusing skit in which Clouseau says the wrong thing at an airport, having been to New York (the fish out of water section here was one of the funniest in the movie).

The other thing is it’s kind of embarrassing to see decent actors such as Jean Reno in films like these, clearly below his level.

Anyway, it’s kind of worth a couple of laughs, but if you actually want to see The Pink Panther, you should find the original series. And when you do, the very first film may not be exactly what people are expecting, as it focuses more on the criminal masterminds and less on Clouseau himself, who was originally a minor character who became very popular. So it might even be better to find the second film of the series, “A Shot in the Dark”. After seeing Sellers in the role of Clouseau, this film does just feel like a disappointment.

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