(R) 1 Star
Emily Mortimer and Steve Martin in 'The Pink Panther'
My question is always the same when I see a movie like the new version of The Pink Panther: "Why?" With all of its money, talent and resources, why does Hollywood insist on rehashing and regurgitating the same tired ideas instead of trying to do something new? Why? Why? Why?
Here's an easy answer: The Pink Panther, despite a chorus of terrible reviews, is No. 1 at the box office. When it ended at the theater where I saw it, people applauded. So maybe I'm too hard on Hollywood. Maybe it is only giving people what they want. But, maybe, people have grown to want this shit because that's all they are given.
The Pink Panther is sad on so many levels. First, it is a pale facsimile of some pretty funny 1960s movies built around a great character, Clouseau, invented by Peter Sellers. Steve Martin, who co-produced the new version, turns Clouseau into his usual The Jerk type of man-child goofball. While it was refreshing to see Martin playing the funny character instead of the straight roles in schlock like Cheaper by the Dozen and Father of the Bride, it still doesn't make up for his misguided approach. The whole time I watched this, I found myself wishing they had found somebody else to play Clouseau, somebody unknown who didn't bring along the baggage of so many other movies and so many other characters.
If you'd like to see Martin at his funniest, go rent The Jerk or Dirty Rotten Scoundrels or Planes, Trains and Automobiles. You'll be able to get those for $1. Really, I'd suggest going to the video store and finding all of the movies ripped off in this one instead of spending $9 a ticket for The Pink Panther. Start, of course, with the early Pink Panther movies. You could also check out a variety of other excellent films starring Sellers: Dr. Strangelove, Lolita, Being There. And the recent biopic about Sellers' life starring Geoffrey Rush is great. Or, if you don't want to go way back, rent the Naked Gun films. These are so much better than The Pink Panther, which blatantly steals at least one joke directly from these laugh-a-minute comedies.
As painful as it was to watch Martin in this stinker, I felt worse for Kevin Kline. He's been in plenty of better movies. While you're at the video store - if you choose to listen to me about this - check him out in A Fish Called Wanda or I Love You to Death. These were funny films worth clapping about.