By CAINE GARDNER
It's easy to debate the delicacies of comedy, what makes it work and why it falls flat. Although some steadfast rules almost always apply, it seems that the genre is giving up on the tried and true and resting solely on the shtick.
I love to watch people smashing their noggins into things and falling down with reckless abandon as much as the next person, but when that's all a film offers, it gets a little tiring.
In the latest installment of the Pink Panther, comedic heavyweight Steve Martin once again attempts to step into the shoes vacated by Peter Sellers in 1978. Martin, as in 2006s reboot of the series, struggles to find his way through the film and gives the audience little in the way of new comedic beats.
The center of the story again revolves around the theft of the Pink Panther diamond and the hijinks that Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Martin) and his colleagues embark upon trying to retrieve it.
After a 10-year hiatus, The Tornado is once again wreaking havoc and stealing priceless treasures throughout the world. In addition to the Pink Panther diamond, the thief has swiped The Shroud of Turin, the Magna Carta and the Royal Emperor's Sword. Now a dream team of international detectives has been assembled to crack the case.
Joining Clouseau on the dream team is British Chief Inspector Randall Pepperidge (Alfred Molina), Italian officer Vincenzo (Andy Garcia) and Japanese techie expert Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki). The team also welcomes Tornado expert Sonia (Aishwarya Rai) and is led by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese).
The team believes they have solved the case after finding numerous stolen items in a dead man's house, but Clouseau, after being asked to leave the team, is not as quick to close the case.
As the main players are at a celebration in their honor, Clouseau puts the pieces together and realizes that The Tornado is alive and is actually one of his colleagues. After a zany, action heavy end to the flick, Clouseau again proves why he is considered the best detective in the world.
Panther is a collection of classic shtick elements that doesn't add up. There are moments where Martin's genius shines through the chaos, but it's not enough. Martin and Cleese are two top-notch comedic actors, but their talents are never utilized to their potential.
Potential is something director Harald Zwart doesn't seem to understand how to use. With talent such as Martin, Cleese, Garcia, Molina, Jeremy Irons and Lilly Tomlin, all Zwart needed to do was turn the camera on and let it roll. Instead, a drab screenplay, partly written by Martin, cripples the cast and shots seem to linger a tiny bit too long.
Final Cut: Panther has some very funny moments, but overall the picture doesn't work. The movie will appeal more to younger viewers, but an experienced viewer will spot its flaws and struggle to overcome them. Not Martin's best outing.
3 out of 5 stars
The Pink Panther 2
Starring: Steve Martin, John Cleese, Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki, Aishwarya Rai
Director: Harald Zwart
Writer: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, Steve Martin (Screenplay); Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber (Story)
MPAA Rating: PG for some suggestive humor, brief mild language and action
Available June 23 on DVD and Blu-Ray