Film The Pink Panther
By Christie Hudon
February 19, 2006
The Pink Panther seemingly has all the right things going for it: a cast of accomplished comedy cronies like Steve Martin and Kevin Kline, the flawlessly French Jean Reno and even newcomer and superstar Beyoncé; a history and an intriguing character in Inspector Clouseau. It even has a really cool jazz theme song written by Mancini. What it lacks is uniqueness.
Based on the success of movies like Napoleon Dynamite and Fun with Dick and Jane, a good comedy recipe seems to consist of equal parts physical humor and wit. Slapstick movies have their place, if the plot is unconventional (see Dumb and Dumber), but a feature length film that is nothing more than a slathering of clichés fails to excite.
Steve Martin is author to novels that are quite witty. It’s surprising that he took the time to co-author a screenplay that is so lacking in creativity. Panther tells the story of Jacques Clouseau (Martin), a hapless French detective who is recruited to muddle up a murder case by the chief of police. Chief Dreyfus (Kline) wants to use Clouseau as a decoy while he solves that case himself and therefore win all the glory. Starlet Xania (Beyoncé), the fiancé of the victim, gives Clouseau someone to chase as she becomes the object of his affection as well as a suspect. Through a series of blunders, Clouseau still manages to keep the case afloat and thwarts the chief’s plans to win fame and honor.
From the synopsis, Panther doesn’t sound too terrible. A little ordinary perhaps, but nothing to steer clear of for Friday night entertainment. The problem is watching the film.
We want to root for the underdog Clouseau but a continuous barrage of bad jokes and over the top slapstick humor makes it hard. Kline’s French accent slips in and out and Beyoncé seems to be looking for more words from the script after each of her short, flirty sentences. Most of the time, she just bats her eyelashes instead.
At one point in the film, one of the sound crew’s boom microphones actually slips into the frame for a noticeable number of seconds. Were they asleep in the editing room? If that’s not actually what it was, then a green blob appeared out of the ceiling for a laugh and disappeared in the next shot.
As much as I try to find spiritual values and thoughts to take away from a movie, Panther stretches my imagination. Practice good financial control and save the fruits of your labor. When will Hollywood understand that sequels and remakes are the film junk foods that healthy moviegoers try to avoid? Think of me as your taste tester. My advice is to skip this dish.