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Pink Panther 2, The


Stars: Steve Martin, Emily Mortimer, Jean Reno, Andy Garcia, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Alfred Molina, Jeremy Irons, John Cleese, Lily Tomlin, Johnny Hallyday, Yuki Matsuzaki, Geoffrey Palmer

Director: Harold Zwart

Undaunted by the critical pasting accorded to his first Pink Panther film, Steve Martin tries again. Looking more like Hitler than France's most inept cop, Jacques Clouseau, he's assigned to a team investigating the theft by the mysterious Tornado of the world's greatest treasures, including the Shroud of Turin, the Magna Carta, the Pope's ring and, of course, the Pink Panther diamond.

To the despair of Clouseau's superior, Dreyfus (Cleese, who gets the chance to bang his head against the wall), the defective detective proceeds to wreck the scene of every crime he investigates, despite the efforts of co-sleuths from Italy (Garcia), England (Molina), India (Rai, clumsily billed as Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and surely bidding farewell to an international career) and Japan (Matsuzaki).

Why is all this, for the most part, so distressingly unfunny? Well, for one thing the direction lacks zip and a true sense of fun. And Martin is a very funny man, but not with a French accent. Then there's a lack of good reaction shots and rib-tickling punchlines to sometimes promising set-ups. But the principal culprit is the franchise itself: its time has come and gone, and its central ideas no longer work.

Shafts of genuine humour still pierce the awfulness of it all: Clouseau's 'tape recorder' that's really a pen does raise a smile, as does Cleese, arriving at a function with a blonde on his arm. 'You know Mrs Dreyfus?' he says to the maitre d'. 'Well, let me know immediately if she arrives.'

David Quinlan

US/UK/France 2009. UK Distributor: Sony (Columbia). Colour by deluxe.
92 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 09 Feb 2009