Surprisingly, one of the better ones.
The Pink Panther 2 (2009): 6 out of 10: Steve Martin reprises his take on that classic Peter Sellers role as Inspector Clouseau. To the surprise of no one in the viewing audience, the Pink Panther diamond is stolen along with other artifacts from around the world (Shroud of Turin, Piscatory Ring, Kusanagi no Tsurugi) A master thief named The Tornado claims responsibility and a Dream Team of Detectives are sent in to solve the case.
The Good: The Pink Panther 2 sports an all-star cast, and it certainly has some stand-outs that carry more than their weight. Jean Reno, in particular, is excellent as Clouseau’s French partner. He is the perfect foil for Steve Martin’s character, even though he does seem to possess a haircut that is more appropriate for an eight-year-old on school picture day. A shirtless Jeremy Irons hams it up as the suspected villain Tornado. He is only in the film for a few minutes, but he makes them count.
Pink Panther 2 also skips the part in every Pink Panther film where we see the thief steal the Pink Panther diamond. Good for them, I say. That was always ten minutes or so that while interesting didn’t fit with the rest of the film. It is actually kind of refreshing not to have to sit through it again.
The Pink Panther 2 is beautifully shot with gorgeous location shots throughout Paris. Almost worth a viewing for the travelogue.
While slapstick is not for everyone, there are some genuine laughs in this film. Steve Martin puts his own spin on the Inspector Clouseau character, which is refreshing. Martin’s Clouseau has more agency and is more physically coordinated than the traditional reading but often still as dim. Steve Martin mind you is no Peter Sellers in the role, but at least he is no Ted Wass either.
The Bad: There are some genuine laughs. Some. Not a lot. There are stretches of this movie where a gag is not working, and yet it seems to go on forever. In all fairness, this is a bit of a Pink Panther tradition as well.
The Ugly. John Cleese plays the old Herbert Lom role of Clouseau’s boss Chief Inspector Charles Dreyfus and “As Time Goes By” alumni Geoffrey Palmer plays his boss Joubert. You could not find two more British people to play the French roles, and neither even take a stab at an accent. I almost expected to see Michael Caine show up as the French President.
In Conclusion: This is a light, breezy comedy with magnificent scenery and lots of fun cameos. Slapstick isn’t my thing, admittedly, but there are some pretty good laughs contained within. I also recently saw 1975’s The Return of the Pink Panther, and this is a better film. It has a much better story and has a broader well of humor to draw from. It is possible that this is the best Pink Panther film since 1964’s A Shot in the Dark. which isn’t as shocking as it sounds if you look at the state of Pink Panther films from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.