Pink Panther 2 Continues Lackluster Overhaul of Iconic Franchise

There are maybe two or three laugh-out-loud moments and a handful of chuckles to be culled from Steve Martin’s overlong Pink Panther 2, the latest installment in the lackluster overhaul of Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers’s iconic Pink Panther comedy franchise. That’s as good as it gets. After several of the world’s most important cultural artifacts are stolen, Inspector Clouseau (a lifelessly mugging Martin) is drafted to head up a who’s-who of the world’s leading detectives to track down the culprit. Until that storied team comes together, the film is a dreary checklist of pratfalls, wan double entendres, and frantic, unfunny set pieces. Jolts of inspiration briefly appear in the forms of a dick-waving Andy Garcia and a verbally jousting Alfred Molina (each playing a detective), and Lily Tomlin as a counselor trying to turn the casually racist and sexist Clouseau into a model of political correctness. The rest of the cast (Emily Mortimer, Jeremy Irons, a disarmingly beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is fine, but it’s Garcia, Molina, and Tomlin who give you momentary hope that the film might settle into a witty, irreverent romp. Unfortunately, their efforts are ultimately defeated by Harald Zwart’s inert direction of a flat script. And you’ll have no problem figuring out the villain long before the film ends.

 
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