Today’s movie is one of the most dreaded things to come out of Hollywood, the remake. See, what happens is that someone gets it in their head that redoing an old movie or TV show would make a better movie than an original one. Now when I first heard about this movie, I had my concerns. Don’t get me wrong, I like Steve Martin and have enjoyed many of his movies, but I didn’t really like the idea of him portraying the character that Peter Sellers made famous. So I wound up skipping seeing this in theaters but eventually bought it when it came out on DVD. So that is how I come to find myself watching today’s movie, The Pink Panther (2006).
The plot: Chief Inspector Dreyfus is attending a football match between France and China and sees the French coach, Yves Gluant, wearing a ring containing the Pink Panther diamond. After kissing his girlfriend, a pop star named Xania, Gluant manages to lead the French team to a victory in sudden death overtime but as the team celebrates on the field, Gluant is killed by a poison dart to the neck and the Pink Panther is stolen. Dreyfus decides to put an incompetent bungler on the case to keep the media busy while he secretly leads a team of the best investigators to find the thief in the hopes it will earn him the Medal of Honor. Dreyfus has Jacques Clouseau, a bumbling village policeman brought up to Paris promotes him to Inspector and assigns him the Pink Panther case. Dreyfus also has Gilbert Ponton assigned to work with Clouseau and report his movements back to Dreyfus. Clouseau goes to see Xania, interrupting a recording session in the process and starts questioning her. She admits that she was angry at Gluant for cheating on her a few months ago but says that Bizu, France’s star player, had more reason to hate Gluant, as she was dating him before she dated Gluant. Clouseau goes to the soccer team’s training facility and questions the new coach on his relationship to Gluant, then arranges for Bizu to come to the station for questioning. At the station, Clouseau uses a “good cop/bad cop” routine to get information out of Bizu and learns that Gluant was stealing money from his business partner, Raymond Larocque, to use for gambling. Leaving the station, Clouseau says that Bizu is innocent but Ponton feels he has motive as Gluant stole Xania from him but when Bizu is found murdered, Ponton admits he was wrong. After questioning the witness, Clouseau decides to go see Larocque and heads to the casino. Inside, he overhears a secret agent speaking and meets with Nigel Boswell, British Secret Agent 006 and offers to help him if he needs it. Clouseau and Ponton then meet with Larocque and question him, where Larocque says the money Gluant stole from the restaurant was used to gamble in his casinos but when Gluant’s debts got so bad, he put up the Pink Panther as collateral. Clouseau suddenly gets a call from Boswell and meets him in the restaurant, where Boswell puts on Clouseau’s trench coat so he can stop the Gas-Mask Bandits from robbing the casino, then gives the coat back to Clouseau as he sneaks out, allowing Clouseau to take the credit. The next day, Dreyfus attends a meeting to approve the nominations for the Medal of Honor and is shocked to hear that Clouseau is being nominated for his actions at the casino, causing Dreyfus to berate Ponton for not telling him what Clouseau was doing. Ponton goes to see Clouseau and they discuss the case, with Clouseau deciding to go to New York to see Xania, believing she knows more than she is telling. They follow her to a black market diamond cutter, where she explains that she was there to fix a purse for her performance at the Presidential Palace. Leaving the diamond cutter’s, Xania invites Clouseau to dinner and the two talk some more but when Xania indicates wanting to sleep with him, Clouseau accidentally sets her bedroom on fire. As Clouseau and Ponton leave New York, Dreyfus has Clouseau’s bag switched for one containing several weapons and he ends up being made a disgrace. Arriving back in Paris, Clouseau is stripped of his rank and told the truth, that he was only promoted because he was an idiot, while Ponton feels bad for his part in it. The next day, Dreyfus tells his team that he believes that a Dr. Pang, a Chinese envoy, is the killer and plans to arrest him that night at the Presidential ball. Meanwhile, Clouseau is looking at a photo of the airport scene online and when he notices something, he quickly calls Ponton and Nicole for help. When Clouseau and Ponton arrive at the palace, they are unable to get in but Nicole brought Clouseau’s bag which contains suits made to blend in with the walls of the palace and Clouseau tells Nicole that she looks pretty before he goes to change. Managing to make their way inside, Clouseau sees the killer heading for the roof but when a guard stops them, Nicole helps convince the guard they are Xania’s back-up dancers and Clouseau kisses her before heading to the roof. Preventing the killer from shooting Xania, they chase him back inside, just as Dreyfus goes to arrest Dr. Pang, and after capturing the killer, Clouseau reveals it is Yuri, the soccer trainer. Yuri admits to killing Gluant and when asked about Bizu, Clouseau explains that Bizu overheard Yuri’s rants and was blackmailing Yuri. Dreyfus asks Yuri to return the diamond but Yuri says he doesn’t have it and Clouseau says it is in Xania’s purse, as he saw it there as it was going through the airport’s x-ray machine. Xania explains that Gluant gave it to her as an engagement ring at the game but she was afraid people would think she killed him for it and Clouseau says the ring is hers. For solving the case, Clouseau is given the Medal of Honor, much to Dreyfus’ chagrin and as Clouseau is leaving, Dreyfus’ jacket is caught in the car door and he is dragged along behind him. When Clouseau, Ponton, and Nicole go to see Dreyfus at the hospital, Clouseau accidentally causes Dreyfus’ bed to start rolling and he ends up rolling down the hallway and out the window, where he yells out “Clouseau” as he falls into the Seine.
The Pink Panther (2006) met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 22% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, ” Though Steve Martin is game, the particulars of the Inspector Clouseau character elude him in this middling update.” The movie was nominated for two Razzies; Worst Remake or Rip-Off and Worst Supporting Actress but did not win either award. Despite the critics, the movie was a box office success, opening at # 1 it’s first weekend and grossing $158.9 million off of an $80 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the Pink Panther franchise.
While it doesn’t compare to the original, this wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Steve Martin was good but I think he spent too much time trying to use his bad accent as a joke. Jean Reno (Ponton) and Beyonce (Xania) were also good but I really liked Kevin Kline (Dreyfus), as he made a great object for Clouseau’s blunders. The story honestly felt a little simplistic and they had to work to make it not be completely boring. There were some good comedic moments in the movie, both with the slapstick comedy as well as some of the dialogue but I will admit that at times, some of the humor was a little cruder than necessary. I much prefer Martin’s older movies but this wasn’t the travesty most people have said it was.
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5