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</script></div>{/googleAds}The Pink Panther breathes again. This time Steve Martin assumes the role of the bumbling, stumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau first played by the late Peter Sellers in a 1963 Blake Edwards film of the same name. The first film was so well received it was followed by no fewer than seven sequels, including a 1993 installment in which the ghost of Jacques Cousteau was to make an appearance before the scene was eventually cut. Needless to say, the series had run its course and lay dormant for more than a decade.

This updated version which confusingly takes place in present day even though it's a prequel to the 1963 version is tailor-made for Steve Martin's brand of physical humor and wacky wit. But unlike the other Pink Panther movies this one is slanted a bit younger and therefore reaches too readily for the easy laugh. I know, I know, It's slapstick! But the original idea of inspector Clouseau was a bit more sophisticated in that it parodied the silent film greats as well as the French Police force as the seemingly clueless entity that always somehow managed to solve the case. So, there's a deeper level of comedy hidden in the concept, but this film doesn't reach it.

The Pink Panther - which is really nothing more than a series of comedy skits loosely held together by the thinnest thread of a plot revolves around the murder of a famed soccer coach (Jason Statham), and the disappearance of the spectacular "pink panther" diamond on his finger. Who killed him? The Chinese delegation of athletes who felt double-crossed? His lover Xania (Beyonce Knowles) who discovered he was cheating? His teammates or fellow coaches? Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) needs a patsy to occupy the press while he does some real investigating. Enter Jacques Clouseau, the totally inept detective who stumbles his way through the investigation, uncovering leads more inefficiently than a Francophilian Barney Fife.

Martin co-wrote the material with Len Blum whose credits, not surprisingly, include Meatballs and Beethoven's 2nd. The Pink Panther is not much above either of these films with regards to its humor and will be forgotten much sooner than later. In fact, that's a good way to classify it - if you liked Beethoven's 2nd, you'll love The Pink Panther. Director Shawn Levy (Cheaper By the Dozen) happened upon the project by chance and his skills barely seem more than adequate here. The film rises, falls and rambles in all directions, but it mostly shows signs of general apathy and disinterest. There's a skill to presenting a film like this, and The Pink Panther, as anemic as it is, is way above his head.

Only two of the film's segments work and these are marginal at best, even by slapstick standards. One of them is revealed in the trailer, in the other, which is one of the film's most humorous moments, Inspector Clouseau and his trusty sidekick Gendarme Ponton (Jean Reno) don wallpaper-matching camouflage and crash a fancy party. The scene garnered the film's biggest laugh even though it seemed a bit flatter than it should have been.

Slapstick is, by definition, juvenile at its highest level, but there's an art to using it effectively in movies these days. We've evolved past pie-in-the-face, kick-to-the-nuts pranks and pratfalls, but that's about all we get from The Pink Panther. Steve Martin is one of the best slapstick deliverymen in the game, but here he just doesn't have good material to work with. The film isn't embarrassing, but neither is it worth wasting 90 minutes on.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; French;Closed Captioned.

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary; deleted scenes; making-of featurettes.

* Audio Commentary
o With director Shawn Levy.
* Deleted Scenes
o Eleven scenes that didn't make the final cut - with optional commentary.
* Featurettes
o Cracking the Case - 22-minutes
o An Animated Trip - 9 minutes
o Deconstruction of the Panther: Creating the Palace Scene - 10 minutes
o Sleuth Cams
+ Killer Press Conference
+ Soccer Set-up
+ Curtain Call
* Music Video - with Beyonce
o Check On It
o A Woman Like Me
* Bonus Features
o Alternate opening title sequence
o Think Pink - Commercial for Sweet 'n Low
o Trailers - Click, Talladega Nights, The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, The Benchwarmers, Monster House, Open Season, The Legend of Zorro, The Pink Panther Film Collection, The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection and The Premiere Frank Capra DVD Collection.

Number of discs: - 1 - Keepcase Packaging