Friday, February 10, 2006

The Pink Panther

There was a time when I think Steve Martin could have pulled off a successful reimagining of the legendary Peter Seller's Inspector Jacques Clousseau. The limber, whipsmart comedian was, at the height of his film career, one of the finest physical humorists the medium had ever seen. He has never possessed the chameleon-like characteristics of Sellers, but the Steve Martin of All of Me, The Jerk, Roxanne and L.A. Story unquestionably had the talent to attempt a revival of the bumbling Frenchman. Unfortunately, Steve Martin 2000 isn't quite up to the task. His performance, while quite often artifically humorous, is decidedly one-note. The film is built almost entirely around Martin's bizarro, uber-affected vocal affectations, as opposed to Sellers' impeccable comic timing and stunning physical presence. Not all the blame can be laid at Martin's feet, however. Director Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen and its sequel) lacks the ability to reign in the broadness of the material, and the film suffers because of it. Blake Edwards, the master craftsman behind the original series, knew, as he always has, exactly the amount of lucid self-awareness to let creep out. The Pink Panther 2.0 is far too "nudge-nudge" with its humor to bring anything new to the table. As such, we are left with a tepid comedy, full of reluctant laughs and inept filmcraft. Kevin Kline, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer and Clive Owen co-star. 93 minutes. USA. Color. Sony Pictures Releasing/Columbia Pictures.