By Ashley Hillard
A great cast is attached to this so-so film directed by Harald Zwart (”Agent Cody Banks”), but it hurts a little to see Steve Martin reprise his role as Inspector Jacques Clouseau in ”The Pink Panther 2”. Some of the scenes serve as a reminder of his days on â€œSaturday Night Live,â€ his brilliant comedic performances, ability to mould into different characters and perform physical comedy. He brings some of that to this character, but he is more annoying than humorous. He also contributed to the script, penned by Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber (”500 Days of Summer”).
There are some laughs in the film as Insp. Clouseau bumbles around Europe with an elite squad called The Dream Team, hired to find irreplaceable historical and cultural artifacts stolen from around the world by the mysterious international thief, The Tornado. He is joined by Ponton (Jean Reno) and his love interest Nicole (Emily Mortimer). Both reprise their roles in the sequel and remain Insp. Clouseauâ€™s strongest allies. Ponton is kicked out of his house after following Insp. Clouseauâ€™s advice on confronting his wife and comes to live with Clouseau, along with his two rambunctious sons. The beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays a detective that tries to take Insp. Clouseauâ€™s attention away from Nicole. Meanwhile, detective Vicenzo (Andy Garcia) tries to win Nicoleâ€™s heart. Rai Bachchan is very good at playing the femme fatale and it would be great to see the Bollywood star in more Hollywood films. Much of the filmâ€™s humor draws from miscommunications, love triangles and of course Insp. Clouseauâ€™s often misguided techniques for solving crimes. He gets on the nerves of Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese) and creates difficult and outlandish situations that he is always able to walk away from, relatively unharmed. As the Dream Team and the public lose respect for Insp. Clouseau as he continues to botch the case and falls off the Popeâ€™s balcony while dressed as the Pope, he is thrown off the case and sent back to work as a parking officer. It is then that he solves the case, saving his reputation and winning back Nicole.
While there have been on and off screen pairings with bigger age differences, it is a little hard to picture 37 year old Emily Mortimer, who looks younger than her age, with 63 year old Steve Martin, who has aged well but is still old enough to be her dad. Andy Garcia plays the reverse of Terry Benedict, his character in the “Ocean’s” films, and is an amiable, warm-hearted detective that is probably a better suited love match for Nicole. Aside from the love story, Insp. Clouseau traipses around with the Dream Team, irritating people and setting restaurants ablaze. Martin is reunited with Lily Tomlin and their scenes are the most dynamic. She plays Mrs. Berenger, a woman bent on teaching Insp. Clouseau about political correctness and their scenes are charming.
Even with Alfred Molina (“Spider-Man 2”) and Yuki Matsuzaki (“Letters from Iwo Jima”) rounding out the stellar cast of the Dream Team and Jeremy Irons, who plays Avellaneda, a man the Dream Team suspects is The Tornado, this film is still missing something. The filmâ€™s stunt coordinator, Ernie F. Orsatti (“The Pink Panther”) does an excellent job creating memorable scenes that strengthen the film, especially when a room full of waiters try to save wine bottles Insp. Clouseau knocks over.
Though it is a goofy comedy, the audience could care more about the characters and be engrossed in the story. It seems like a half hearted effort to keep the franchise going. Kids will probably enjoy the flick, so itâ€™s worth it to bring them and if you are a fan of any of the actors it is fun seeing them take on light hearted roles.
A Gag reel and two featurettes. Nothing special.