By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures
The Pink Panther 2
They couldn't get everyone back for The Pink Panther 2. John Cleese replaces Kevin Kline as Dreyfuss, and Harald Zwart takes over directing, but it doesn't matter. Steve Martin still wrote the bits, he performs it, so you just have to get it on board.
Review: The Pink Panther 2
I presume that Martin's input is in the comic set pieces. That's where he's a genius. Some other guys can figure out the mystery plot that nobody really cares about. Hey, it's honest work.
There's a hamburger homage right away and all of Martin's bits are conceived as mini stories with beginnings, middles and ends. They hinge completely on Martin's performance of it, and they are like Jackie Chan fights without the fighting. So really, they're like Chaplin with sound, and they do manage one silent sequence.
Clousseau is still logical, just missing the obvious. It's all about Martin's commitment. He knows the rules, the limits and he's an expert at performing it. Even the stunt doubles do some awesome work.
The humor is silly with slightly smart touches. Some are just plain pratfalls, but he's joyfully racist and his saving grace is that he's always right. You can be ridiculous if you get the job done, and every time he's ridiculous, I can feel Martin going, "Yeah, I just did that. That's right."
The "dream team" of detectives provide good new feuds for Clousseau. He feuds with the Italian detective over his confidence, the British detective over his intelligence and the Japanese detective over technology. It's only unfortunate that there are so many of them, they don't have much time to devote to each one.
The one lost gag from Martin's first Panther is his suggestive pratfalls with Nicole (Emily Mortimer). Now keeping their relationship secret, they no longer end up in compromising positions. Yet Nicole has a much bigger part in this one, but less to actually do.
I liked Steve Martin's first Pink Panther. I don't have any attachment to the original but it showed Martin is still a genius. The sequel no longer benefits from the surprise that it's not a disastrous remake, but it's more of the same.