Pink Panther 2

 

The trashy, disjointed sequel, “Pink Panther 2,” a follow-up to the 2006 hit comedy, reveals the strictly commercial face of Steve Martin, an artist who must have made this one-weekend-movie for the paycheck.  Martin's other, more interesting face is that of the accomplished comedian of yesteryear and intellectual writer at present, who has authored a number of respected books and has published essays in magazines like the New Yorker.

 

The studio boasts that Martin has “successfully reinvigorated” the legendary “Pink Panther” comedy franchise, but judging by the results, he has done anything but.  Moreover, I doubt if the part, with its demands for heavy accent and physical comedy, presents any challenge for a vet like Martin.  The whole enterprise is so mechanically calculated that it's hard to buy into the character's exaggerated behavior, histrionic antics, and childlike innocence. 

 

That said, there must be an audience for such inconsequential fare, or else Columbia would not be making it.  While watching this lame Panther, I kept thinking, what would be Peter Sellers' response to his original series  And what would be the reaction of creator-director Blake Edwards, who's around though has not been active as director for decades.

 

As you know, Martin reprises the role of intrepid, bumbling French police detective Inspector Jacques Clouseau.  Based on a meager idea (really a sketch), the plot centers on retrieving some stolen treasures from around the world, prime among which is the priceless Pink Panther Diamond.

 

Just as wasted as Martin is the gifted John Cleese, who plays the nemesis Chief Inspector Dreyfus, who's forced to assign Clouseau to a team of international detectives and experts charged with catching the thief and retrieving the artifacts.  Made for the global movie market, this sequel, set in Paris and Rome, flaunts an international cast of talented thesps, who one hopes get high enough fees to make worthier films elsewhere.  Martin is joined by the Gallic Jean Reno as Ponton his partner, the British Emily Mortimer as Nicole, the object of his awkward affections, and Oscar-winner Jeremy Irons as a suspected culprit. 

 

Not neglecting cultural diversity, there is also representation of racial minorities and other nationalities. The investigative team includes Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki and Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.   

 

The on-screen reunion of Martin with Lily Tomlin, after their great collaboration in the comedy “All of Me,” is vastly disappointing.  Whose idea was is to cast Tomlin, of all people, as a counselor concerned with good behavior and political correctness

 

With the exception of two laugh-out loud jokes and perhaps three chuckles, the script, credited to Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, and Steve Martin (based on a story by Neustadter and Weber) is bland, empty, and downright embarrassing.  Harald Zwart, whose direction is flat and impersonal, seems to be functioning more as traffic manager than genuine helmer.   Utterly lackluster, this installment is put together by combining unfunny set-pieces, staged in a pacing that's either too frantic or too deliberate.

 

It's hard to describe what Martin is doing as comedic acting.  It's more like walking through the part aimlessly (except for the pratfalls, of course), with quite a bit of mugging.