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THE PINK PANTHER

Starring: Steve Martin, Beyonce Knowles and Jean Reno
Director: Shawn Levy
Rated: PG

IF we employed a ratings system in our reviews, The Pink Panther would rate very low, I’m afraid.

Steve Martin plays the earnest and bumbling Inspector Clouseau, investigating the murder of France’s soccer coach, and the theft of the Pink Panther diamond.

Set up as a prequel continuity-wise to the original 1963 Pink Panther, Steve Martin’s Clouseau, while not a patch on Peter Sellers, does get funnier as the film goes on.

Jean Reno (who seems to be cast in every major English language production that requires a French actor) plays Gendarme Gilbert Ponton – a forgiveably bland straight man to Clouseau’s predictable slapstickery.

Kevin Kline plays Clouseau’s power hungry superior, Dreyfus, and he really could have tried harder – his French accent is usually quite passable, for comedic purposes.

Perhaps Kline dumbed down his own performance so as to not steal the limelight.

The talented Beyonce Knowles plays the girlfriend of the victim, and gives a decent performance.

There’s an amusing cameo from Clive Owen as a dashing tuxedo-garbed “006”.

As a sidenote, he won’t be playing the new Bond, sadly.

The Pink Panther relies on cheap jokes and slapstick humour so well telegraphed that, after seeing the opening 15 minutes of the movie, it occurred to me that one could knock off a screenplay like this in a week or two, given the right motivation.

There are some funny scenes, but they’re too few.

Director Shawn Levy doesn’t have much experience and it may have been too challenging for him to handle this movie.

Steve Martin has been a lot funnier, and given his acting in the recent Shopgirl, he can clearly still act, but I wonder if his particular brand of physical humour is a bit past it, frankly.

On a more positive note, the target audience (it’s PG, after all) will get a few easy laughs out of this, and most likely won’t treat it to a “serious” reviewer’s critique.

But I doubt they’ll get it out for a repeat viewing when the DVD is released.

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