The Pink Panther review by Mike Long

While citizens in other parts of the world are worried about various epidemics, those in Hollywood should be concerned about a specific disease which has struck that town -- Remake Fever! Yes, it seems that every hit from yesteryear -- in almost any genre -- is being redone for a modern audience. (Although, it seems that most of the remakes are horror movies.) These remakes seem to fall into three categories; well-known hits that shouldn't be remade; obscure movies that shouldn't be remade; movies whose notoriety hasn't been passed down to new generations which shouldn't be remade. The Pink Panther falls into that latter category. While the original Pink Panther films are considered comedy classics and re-defined, the movies haven't necessarily been adopted by members of Generation X and beyond (I personally haven't seen any of the films). Thus many found it offensive that a new version of The Pink Panther was made. However, as a newcomer to the Panther world, I was willing to give the movie a chance.

The Pink Panther opens with not one, but two crimes, as the beloved coach of the French soccer team, Yves Gluant (Jason Statham), is murdered, and his trademark pink diamond, known as "The Pink Panther" is stolen. Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) of the Paris police knows that this is a very important case and decides that he will solve the crimes and become a hero. He further decides that he should keep a low profile while investigating the crimes while letting an incompetent policeman take on a more public inspection. He chooses the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) for the job, feeling that Clouseau will screw things up and Dreyfus will be a hero.

Unaware that he is being set up, the dim-witted, oblivious, and oddly arrogant Clouseau begins the investigation along with his partner, Ponton (Jean Reno). After questioning Gluant's girlfriend, Xania (Beyonce Knowles), and the members of the soccer team, Clouseau begins to form his own bizarre theories. While Dreyfus cringes at the very sight of Clouseau, the inept Inspector may just find his way to the killer.

This is the point where this review could go in two directions -- except, one will be very brief. Those of you who have seen the original The Pink Panther will want to know how this remake stacks up and again, the answer is I don't know as I've never seen the original. All that I can do is critique the film for what it is.

In my recent reviews for Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and Shopgirl , I lamented the fact that Steve Martin no longer makes comedies like he used to. Well, The Pink Panther certainly isn't a classic, but it is very reminiscent of classic Steve Martin comedies, and at this point in time, that's better than nothing. Of course, we aren't talking about the gentle, intellectual humor of movies like L.A. Story and Roxanne. No, with this film Martin appears to be attempting to re-capture the super-silly and slapstick humor of The Jerk and The Man With Two Brains. Again, The Pink Panther doesn't approach the hilarity or irreverence of those two movies, but it certainly does have its share of funny moments.

And isn't that what it's all about anyway? Having no basis for comparison, I went into this movie with no pre-conceived notions. I simply wanted to see a funny Steve Martin film, and I feel that The Pink Panther delivers on that front. Yes, it's very stupid and silly and many of the jokes are telegraphed from a mile away, but Martin still proves that no one plays silly like he does. He also proves once again, that it often takes a very smart person to play a very dumb one. The thing that I admired most about The Pink Panther was the fact that I was laughing at several different things. The pratfalls, the one-liners, and the double-entendres all had there humorous elements.

I hope that I'm not giving the impression that The Pink Panther is a non-stop laugh riot, because it isn't. The fact that the movies has its funny moments doesn't mean that the entire film is funny. There are several stretches where nothing funny happens and the attempts at humor are merely groan inducing. However, when Martin hits his stride, the results are priceless. Allow me to state again that this isn't clever and subtle Steve Martin. The humor in The Pink Panther is often stupid and childish, but if you are a fun of that kind of comedy, you'll find something to like here.

(Aside: I did find some of the humor somewhat odd. I'd read rumors on the internet that Sony ordered the film to be re-cut for a PG rating and that some of the racier material had been removed. Even still, this doesn't explain the presence of a Viagra joke that just comes out of nowhere.)

The Pink Panther sneaks onto DVD courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the transfer is enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The image looks good, as it's sharp and clear. There is no notable grain on the image and it is free from defects from the source material. The colors look very good, as the movie shows off some nice greens, reds, and blues. The image is devoid of video noise, but I did see some subtle edge-enhancement issues. A Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track can be found on the DVD. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are quite good, as are the surround sound effects during crowd scenes. A runaway globe does provide some noticeably good subwoofer action.

This DVD contains a smattering of extras. We begin with an Audio Commentary from director Shawn Levy. Levy hasn't exactly redeemed himself for junk like Cheaper by the Dozen or Just Married, but given the fact that I liked The Pink Panther, I was willing to give him a listen. Knowing that this film has been made into a family-friendly product, Levy keeps the talk lite, chatting about his relationships with the actors, the locations, and how Martin got involved with the film and eventually co-wrote the script. The DVD contains 11 Deleted Scenes which can be viewed with optional commentary by Levy. The scenes run some 24-minutes and do contain some funny moments. "Cracking the Case" is a 22-minute make of featurette which contains comments from the cast and crew. They talk about the inspiration for the film and how it differs from the original, as well as location shooting and Levy's direction. The creators of the film's animated opening, Bob Kurtz and Eric Goldberg, are interviewed in "Animated Trip" (9 minutes). "Deconstructing the Panther" (10 minutes) is an in-depth look at the filming of the movie's finale. Behind-the-scenes video of three scenes is provided in "Sleuth-cams". An Alternate Opening Title Sequence (3 1/2 minutes), rendering in CG animation, can be viewed with or without commentary from Levy. The extras are finished off by a Music Video for the song "Check on It" by Beyonce, and an Exclusive Beyonce Performance, with optional commentary by Levy.

6 out of 10 Jackasses

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