The Pink Panther 2
I wish Jean Reno would stop prancing around and shoot him already … wait, this isn’t The Professional 2? Dammit, why am I here?

Theatrical Release Date: 02/06/2009
Director: Harald Zwart
Cast: Steve Martin, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Lily Tomlin, Jeremy Irons

As fate would have it, on the same day of a movie screening I had a dentist visit during which the Novocaine shot caused one of the muscles in my jaw to spasm – creating pain whenever I attempted to open my jaw very much, such as when smiling or laughing. Normally, this could pose quite a problem when it comes to watching a comedic film … good thing I was there for “The Pink Panther 2″ – my jaw felt fine for the duration of the movie.

Of course, I do admit to trepidation before the screening because of how terrible Steve Martin’s first foray into the role had been. As a child, I watched a number of the Peter Sellers films that this franchise reboot is based on and while none have retained a status in my personal favorite comedies, I could at least appreciate them and go along with the farce.

Seeing Martin attempt to play the bumbling French detective, Inspector Clouseau, is sort of like watching Gérard Depardieu try to play Dirty Harry – it just doesn’t work. Martin has played a wonderful assortment of bumbling characters before (“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”, “Saturday Night Live”, etc) but the effort put forth here fails to make me believe his character is anything other than Steve Martin playing French.

“Reinventing” such an iconic character is very hard to do and with Martin’s failure at the role, it casts the film’s chances in the trash. No manner of accoutrement can pick up the pieces of a production so heavily reliant on the main character.

And so it doesn’t help that a number of very good actors decided that either the paycheck or the connection to a Pink Panther project (no matter how loosely related to the original set of films) was enough to gain their involvement. Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer reprise their roles (hopefully through force of contract) from the first film and are joined by the likes of Alfred Molina, John Cleese and Jeremy Irons. I felt more sadness than glee at their inclusion because my heart went out to each of them as I had to endure watching them struggle with such a banal script and generic film making.

Director Harald Zwart seemed to be making the movie as if it came from a paint by numbers kit and I suppose that comes as no surprise considering some of his previous work includes “Agent Cody Banks” and “One Night at McCool’s”. Nothing in the film felt fresh or energetic and the sets gave the entire production more of a high school play vibe than anything else.

Although I feel with a great amount of conviction that my opinion on the film is correct, the screening audience did seem to genuinely like the film, laughing at all of the predictable gags and trite jokes. There was even a smattering of applause once the credits began to roll (though I’d like to think it was for gaining the freedom to leave the theater).

While it’s in the realm of possibility to admit that “The Pink Panther 2″ was better than I expected … keep in mind the expected result was to be something akin to “Norbit” and so garnering a 2 out of 5 might be seen as some small victory but it’s by no means a sign of approval. Young kids might be okay with it because so much of the film revolves around cheap, slapstick humor. However, I wouldn’t recommend the film to anyone I associate with and your money will probably be much better spent elsewhere. Somehow, I doubt you’re surprised, though.