So if anyone complains that The Pink Panther 2 is the latest nail in the coffin of the original Inspector Clouseau, you can correct them.
I was not looking forward to screening this sequel. I remember very little of Steve Martin's first outing in this series, aside from the accent coach/"hamburger" scene -- which was horrible, then strangely funny and compulsively rewatchable. Then there's the title: films in the Pink Panther series have reached double digits, and many have interesting names. Are MGM and Columbia really so lazy as to slap a "2" on it? Color me disappointed.
But I'll admit that the new film delivers on some levels. The inspector still can't pronounce American food and is detested by his superiors, but the plot allows for some bloated (but welcome) casting. It's debatable whether Andy Garcia, Lily Tomlin, Jeremy Irons, Alfred Molina, and TMBWITW Aishwarya Rai Bachchan are actually slumming, considering the likely international box office.
A long-retired thief named The Tornado has resurfaced to steal priceless artifacts in multiple countries, and Clouseau is assigned to a crime-solving dream team. Mishaps ensue, Clouseau is discredited, Clouseau rebounds. The story is nothing special, but it does give Andy Garcia the opportunity to play a light role as Clouseau's professional and romantic rival. I also liked the development of Jean Reno's character, the fully capable officer who's still respectful and deferent to Clouseau.
I am less enthusiastic about Steve Martin, who was similarly uninspiring in last weekend's Saturday Night Live. As a comedy actor, he's not really trying anymore. Wanting to believe the best about him, I think his best work ahead is probably away from the camera, maybe in writing or music. This movie and any future installments are strictly about getting paid. Judging from the positive response of the parents and kids in the audience -- and the good money a PG-rated movie can bring in these days -- it's going to be a big paycheck.