Saturday 14 February 2009

Movie Review: The Pink Panther 2 (2009)

Steve Martin returns as the bumbling French detective Inspector Clouseau.

A daring thief known simply as The Tornado is stealing the world's most precious artifacts, including the Pink Panther diamond. A team of top international detectives, including Clouseau, is created to track down and capture The Tornado. It's a good, simple premise and sets up a light-hearted, entertaining, and yes, quite funny misadventure.

Director Harald Zwart (from Norway, with films like Agent Cody Banks on his resume) does a good job in allowing scenes, and jokes, room to breathe and develop. The editing is restrained, and the focus remains firmly on Martin, playing Clouseau with the perfect mix of mis-placed confidence, ineptness and melancholy.

The film is refreshingly politically incorrect, trading heavily on national stereotypes as the international detectives mostly bicker and engage in one-upmanship. Clouseau's inability to restrain any of his sexist thoughts is also given room to play.

In support, John Cleese is perfect in a smallish role as Clouseau's pompous superior Chief Inspector Dreyfus, and the strong cast is rounded out by likes of Jeremy Irons, Andy Garcia, and Lily Tomlin. Emily Mortimer is the unlikely and mousy love interest. Unfortunately, Jean Reno as Clouseau's side-kick Gendarme Ponton is not given much to do this time.

The jokes come thick and fast, and most of them work, at least partially. The highlights include Clouseau's mis-adventure with the wine collection at a luxurious restaurant, and his encounter with the Pope. Special mention also goes to scenes featuring the Black Beret Special Forces, tasked with protecting Dreyfus.

The spirits of Blake Edwards, Peter Sellers and Henry Mancini are alive and well.

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