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February 9, 2009 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | February 9, 2009 |

Does this even deserve a serious review? Should I worry myself about syntax, coherence, or even decency, when this movie doesn’t bother with that? Critics take a lot of guff for deigning to verbally defecate over labors of love. Was earfucking the memories of Blake Edwards and Peter Sellers a mission from God sent to Steve Martin? The theatre I sat in Saturday morning was semi-full, and people were nigh falling out of their seats in hysterics. Maybe I take things too seriously.

I figured there wouldn’t be much in terms of plot. I really expected better than a haphazard amalgam of godawful sketch comedy scenes wedged together like week-old monkey bread. In the movie, rich stuff gets stolen by a master thief called “The Tornado”: Stuff like the Magna Carta, the Shroud of Turin, an Imperial Sword, and the Pink Panther diamond. An international dream team is assembled to recover the artifacts. Clouseau’s an idiot, they hate him, the case gets solved. Yet, this doesn’t even take up the full 87-minute film. Instead, they have to add a bone-snappingly gawky love triangle involving Clouseau, his secretary/assistant Nicole, and an Italian detective.

Most of the scenes stagger along awkward and unfunny, like a screaming mother running down a nighttime highway wailing for her child — only you know, she’s dressed like a clown. They button on jokes Steve Martin found in a sock drawer from when he moved five years ago. Dangling children over a balcony in front of the press a la Michael Jackson? Seriously? Political and sexual harassment awareness? Martin even burgles wholesale Leslie Nielsen routines. I know the French scorn our inability to appreciate the finer comedy of Jerry Lewis or Kevin “Le Poopy” MacDonald, but surely this movie merits them bringing another old gem out of the mothballs: the guillotine. Most of the humor comes from Steve Martin’s mangling of pronounciations and tired slapstick. They don’t just beat those dead horses but grind them up and make them into glue. If this were intended to be a family film, I would let this slide. But with jokes that deal with Ponton “not being able to satisfy his wife” and the sexual harassment counselor arousing Clouseau with descriptions of “ample cleavage” and “gazing at firm mounds,” it’s unforgivable. I guess our delicate American sensibilities could not handle Steve Martin actually getting a boner.

There are so many high-level actors slumming here, Stringer Bell and Marlo might open a shop. It’s the cinematic equivalent of seeing who can undergo the most humiliating achievement in film (outside of a Night at the Museum 2: Kids Watch The Goddamnedest Things cameo). John Cleese takes over the role of Dreyfus. (Note to producers — if Kevin Kline won’t even agree to be in your movie, you probably shouldn’t be making it.) Cleese decided not to do an accent — which is kind of like hiring Aerosmith to valet park at your wedding. Cleese’s entire schtick consists of smashing his face against office furniture. The international dream team Stooge-Fus their way through cake-facings and falling down staircases, which would be less humiliating if it didn’t involve Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, and Yuki Matsusaki. OK, well, maybe not so much the poor man’s Hiro, but surely the other two. Alfred Molina ends up in a tutu. It could be worse. He could be forced to put on the most atrocious Italian accent since Luigi the Pizza Guy. The three of them exist only as broad stereotypes: snooty intellectual Brit, lady-hungry Italian, and tech whiz Japanese — who Clouseau refers to as his “little yellow friend.” Lily Tomlin plays the sexual harassment counselor — and other than looking like Frau Farbissene’s Grossmutter, I’m not sure why the fuck she’s in this except maybe she’s trying to buy a mobile home. Then there’s Jeremy Irons. He might be auditioning for the part of Mr. Freeze in the future Nolan Batman films, because the entire purpose of his character is to show off Mr. Irons washboard physique.

Three people return from the original to further shame themselves. They must have given Emily Mortimer a Monopoly card that allows her to commit four public murders, no questions asked. Otherwise, I can’t see why she would gamble away her Oscar future on this horrendous French accent and terrible love subplot. Jean Reno fattened up on pate past parkour and into the pastry box. Surely, Luc Besson’s got some sort of baguette he can throw him in his waning days to prevent him from taking on garbage like this. And then, there’s Steve Martin. His h-less accent is so tinfoil teeth it actually made Jean Reno’s sound off, and that motherfucker’s French. Martin has less chemistry with his leading ladies than an Amish bombmaker. He keeps taking movies in order to bed younger and younger actresses. Kevin Kline netted Phoebe Cates, so who’s left for Martin? He’s got a sophisticated palate, not merely content to go for Megan Fox or Amber Heard in his groin, but sort of plumbing the $5 bin of the B-List Beauty. He went for Heather Graham and Claire Danes. The next logical step is Gwyneth Paltrow or Lisa Kudrow. Steve Martin’s lost his step. It’s like watching Rocky Balboa fight Mohammed Ali. I don’t know what can save him, other than a crowbar to his funnybone, or a suicide pact with Robin Williams, Mike Meyers, and Eddie Murphy.

This is all stuff we know. We knew this would suck. What I can’t understand was, who finds this funny? Steve Martin gets hit with a car and knocked across the Seine — wocka fucking wocka. It makes me sad seeing actors I admire do subsubpar work. The more movies I watch, the worse they seem to get. But the more important question is are we really doing a service by acknowledging their existence? Do you come here to read scorn of stuff that you know is terrible? I don’t think any of our readership honestly expected this to be entertaining, and nobody was on the fence about whether or not they were going to see this. Is the purpose of a movie this bad to remind you of the good stuff they used to do? I’ll never know. I’ll just pop in Leon, The Professional and The Jerk, and remember the good old days. Zat’s zee only way Martin’s coping with ‘is paycheck whoring.

Brian Prisco lives in a pina down by the mer-port of Burbank, by way of the cheesesteak-laden arteries of Philadelphia. When not traveling in and out of books to stay narrowly ahead of the pack of Cannonball Readers, he can be found on a Wii Fit staying narrowly ahead of a massive coronary infarction. He catches what floats down in the sewers of the comments section and burps it up for your amusement. Any and all grumblings can be directed to priscogospel at hotmail dot com. He steadfastly awaits the day when Mayor McCheese comes up for re-election so he can finally bust up the porkbellies of McTammany Hall.

The Pink Panther 2 / Brian Prisco

Film | February 9, 2009 |

Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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