Of all the movies in the Pink Panther franchise, 2009’s The Pink Panther 2 is the only one with a number in the title. It’s the least creative title in franchise history. While that in itself is not a problem, it’s a good way to set the tone for this review.
Especially with movies made since the DVD format reached popularity, the less you can find about a film’s production cycle online, the worse it generally is. With The Pink Panther 2, there is virtually no information about its production available online. The only information I could find was a 2 minute BTS clip on Dailymotion, which was mostly just the cast members praising each other, along with clips from the movie.
Most of the major cast members from the previous movie return. Steve Martin reprises his role as Inspector Clouseau, who is now a world famous detective. Jean Reno returns as his assistant, Gendarme Gilbert Ponton. Emily Mortimer once again portrays Nicole, who is some sort of secretary within the police force, and Clouseau’s love interest. However, Kevin Kline doesn’t return as Chief Inspector Dreyfus. He’s replaced by John Cleese. Beyoncé also doesn’t return, but it’s normal for plot centric characters to only appear in a single Pink Panther movie.
A number of new cast members appear in this movie. There’s Andy Garcia as Vincenzo, an Italian businessman who joins an international “Dream Team” of investigators. He’s got a bit of a rivalry with Clouseau, which quickly turns him into the guy leading the efforts to get Clouseau kicked off the team for his incompetence. Alfred Molina is Randall, the British member of the team, and he basically plays second fiddle to Vincenzo. Yuki Matsuzaki is the Japanese technology expert in the Dream Team, and I honestly can’t remember anything about his character. Jeremy Irons plays Alonso, the first major suspect of the Dream Team. To top it off, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Sonia Soladres, the Indian member of the Dream Team, and appears to be an expert on their prime suspect, “The Tornado”.
You’ve actually got quite the star studded cast for this movie. Reno is an internationally known actor who’s appeared in the likes of Mission Impossible, Mufasa the French dub of both versions of The Lion King, The Da Vinci Code, and numerous French, Italian and Japanese movies. Martin and Garcia need no introductions. Cleese is a legendary comedian. Bachchan might not be as well-known in English language film circles, but she’s very well-known in Indian cinema, and also won the Miss World 1994 pageant. So one must wonder, how did so many big name actors get attached to this?
The movie received disastrous reviews from critics, earning a 12% on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 3.5/10. It earned $76 million worldwide on a $70 million budget. Generally speaking, a movie must earn back twice its budget in order to make a profit, which would make Pink Panther 2 a box office bomb. That means that of the 11 movies in this franchise, 5 of them bombed, including 4 of the last 5.
The Washington Times review stated, “It’s unlikely that anyone over 10 will find much to cheer in this film, and adults will just be depressed by seeing a once-cutting-edge wit like Mr. Martin debasing himself. The Daily Mail called the movie “the most casually catastrophic addition yet to the 45-year-old franchise.” The Financial Times straight up called Pink Panther 2, Steve Martin’s worst movie.
Is it as bad as those critics say? No. But is The Pink Panther 2 a bad movie? Yes. As much as Martin’s Clouseau was more arrogant and less self-aware than Peter Sellers’ version, he was still likeable in the first movie, and he does learn a lesson in humility. Not only has he forgotten that lesson, but he’s even more arrogant, to the point where he comes across as a jerk. I’d sooner blame the writing than Martin, but Clouseau is unlikeable in this movie. Then again, Martin co-wrote this movie along with Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. But a lot of the blame goes to Director Harald Zwart as well, previously known for One Night at McCool’s and Agent Cody Banks. Neither of those movies are considered spectacular.
In terms of comedy, the first movie relied too much on repeating jokes for its own good. This movie makes that drastically worse. For example, Clouseau gets kicked off the case in the first movie after a bit of an international incident, which was really just a misunderstanding at an Airport. This time, it takes two much bigger incidents to get kicked out. First, he does something really stupid at The Vatican, somehow with the Pope’s permission. Second, he burns down a restaurant that he’s supposed to be banned from … because he burned it down months before during a date. Even after that, he manages to embarrass himself again when he holds two kids upside-down out his apartment window. It’s a pathetic scene reminiscent of Cato’s random attacks in the original series, where the kids ambushed him.
The story is different from the first, but the story progression feels like a carbon copy of the first movie. After the Pink Panther is stolen, Clouseau (and the Dream Team) investigate several very rich suspects. At some point, Clouseau is kicked out after doing something embarrassing. While down on his luck, Clouseau stumbles on a vital clue that exposes the real culprit, while the others start moving in on the wrong suspect. At some sort of celebration event, Clouseau sneaks in despite not being invited, and reveals the real culprit, complete with a charismatic speech.
We also get some sort of confrontation during the climax. In the first movie, it was kind of amusing, as the Clouseau and Ponton are caught by a security guard, and Nicole convinces the guard that the pair are Beyoncé’s backup dancers. In this movie, it leads to a chase scene full of over-the-top, unfunny slapstick comedy, in which Clouseau’s clumsiness makes the competent members of the Dream Team look like fools. Also in the first movie, it’s convincing that Clouseau could figure out who the murderer is, partly because there are clues sprinkled throughout the movie. With this one, he straight up set a trap from the beginning, but we only learn about that trap at the very end. The movie also did a poor job at sprinkling clues throughout the story. Almost everything is jammed into the ending. Everything feels too convenient. And when there are clues, they’re terrible at being subtle.
The performances are lackluster as well. Martin isn’t as energetic as he was in the first movie, but then again he was in his mid-60’s by this point. To be fair he’s still more energetic than Sellers was with any movie after A Shot in the Dark. Even so, his attempts at slapstick comedy just feel kind of sad. Cleese’s portrayal of Dreyfus feels really phoned in. He basically just plays himself. Reno’s portrayal of Ponton in this movie feels kind of apathetic, as if he doesn’t really care anymore. The only performances with any real effort come from Garcia and Bachchan, but the writing behind their characters feels forced. They can only do so much to help this mess of a movie.
Is Pink Panther 2 the worst movie in the franchise? No, that still belongs to Son of the Pink Panther. It’s not far off though. The Pink Panther 2 is everything wrong with manufactured comedies from the 2000’s, from phoned-in performances from legends who are past their prime, to repeated jokes that weren’t even funny the first time. Don’t forget the formulaic plot that was old and tired years before the movie released. It’s not completely unsalvageable. There are a handful of mildly amusing scenes. Clouseau’s solution to the problem would have worked if he was a more competent character from the start, and the subplot surrounding The Tornado’s deception is kind of clever. That’s not enough to save a bad comedy. Do yourself a favour and don’t watch this movie, even if you like the first Steve Martin Pink Panther film.
Reviewing this movie is kind of depressing, especially considering how great the Pink Panther series was in its prime. So to end this blog series on a high note, next week I’ll be looking at The Party, which many consider to be the best collaboration between Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers. It’s also the movie they worked on the same year that Inspector Clouseau released, thus why they couldn’t make that film.
I haven’t completely decided on next month – it depends on what happens with work in the next few weeks. But if I can find the time, I’ll go through all 6 Home Alone movies. I’ve actually reviewed 4 and 5 on this blog before, but my movie review style was very different, and much more rough back then. Especially my review of 4 when I still imitated some of the angry YouTube review guys instead of writing in my own style. If not the Home Alone series, I’ll just do 3 or 4 random Christmas movies and a new Home Ownership journal to cap off the year.
I’ve not seen Pink Panther 2 but it sounds like a weather lacklustre instalment. I’ve throughly enjoyed your reviews of the Pink Panther franchise, its made me want to revisit many of these films again. 🙂
Even after watching all of them, I feel like rewatching the good ones sometime in the near future. Long story short, if Peter Sellers is in it, and was alive during production, it’s worth watching.
But yeah, whether you enjoyed the first remake movie or not, Pink Panther 2 should be skipped.
Also I didn’t put this into the blog post because there was enough to talk about with the movie itself, but there are talks of another reboot, that will be a live action/CGI animated hybrid, where the cartoon character will be in the real world and will directly interact with Clouseau. I don’t know what to think of that, but Julia Andrews (Blake Edwards’ widow) is one of the producers. I imagine she’ll at least try to be respectful.
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