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The Pink Panther 2 (2009)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Released: 6/23/2009

All Ratings out of
Movie: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/30/2009

(Yes, I'm about to compare Steve Martin to steak. No, I don't know what I'm doing.) How do you like your Steve Martin? Do you like him rare (I'm using rare as a steak metaphor here, not as a measurement of frequency)? This occurs when he goes for the intellectual laugh. Or, do you like him well-done? We get this when he gets broad and goes into slapstick. Throughout his career, Martin has brought us both kinds of comedy, and most of his films fall somewhere in-between. (For a good example, see Roxanne.) (Martin has, of course, also done dramatic roles, but trust me, that has nothing at all to do with this discussion.) The comedy which Martin exercises in The Pink Panther 2 lands somewhere in the neighborhood of 90% physical and slapstick. That conclusion should immediately let you know if this is your kind of film.

The Pink Panther 2 picks up about 18 months after the events of the first film. Despite the fact that he's a national hero for recovering the beloved Pink Panther diamond, Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) has been placed on traffic-ticket duty by Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese, taking over the role from Kevin Kline), as he considers Clouseau to be completely incompetent. Meanwhile, priceless artifacts from around the world, including the Magna Carta and the Shroud of Turin, are stolen by a thief known as The Tornado. A "dream team" of international detectives including Vincenzo (Andy Garcia), Pepperidge (Alfred Molina), and Mazuto (Yuki Matsuzaki) is assembled, and Clouseau is invited to join, much to Dreyfus' chagrin. The team is assisted by Sonia Solandres (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), who has written a book on The Tornado. While the other detectives attempt to gather clues in the conventional manner, Clouseau, with the aid of his assistant, Ponton (Jean Reno), goes about doing things his own way -- and generally makes a mess of it. Is there any way that this clueless man can help solve the crime? And how can he concentrate on the case, when he is trying to deny his feelings for his co-worker, Nicole (Emily Mortimer).

2006's The Pink Panther is by no means a classic, but it did have some funny moments. It showed that despite the fact that Steve Martin is over 60, he's not afraid to be silly. Well, if The Pink Panther was silly, then I don't know what to call The Pink Panther 2. As noted above, this movie puts an even heavier emphasis on slapstick. Whereas the first film had some key scenes where Clouseau's physical comedy would create havoc, it feels as if every few minutes in The Pink Panther 2 we get another set-piece where Martin is falling down and destroying something. The effect of this? Well, it gets numbing after a while. Despite some attempts to break up the monotony, once you've seen Clouseau cluelessly destroy a room, it takes some very novel to make it interesting again. All of this on top of the fact that this movie is the sequel to a remake which spawned a whole series of films in which Peter Sellers did basically the same thing. But, that's not to say that none of the pratfalls are funny. There is a scene in which Clouseau's antics are taking place on a security monitor which does contain some inspired moments.

But, that's not to imply that The Pink Panther 2 is a total loss. The movie does have two strong points going for it. First of all, in between all of Martin's physical hi-jinks, the movie does contain some clever dialogue. Martin clearly still loves broad physical comedy, but the man is very intelligent and he's not above (below?) sticking some funny asides into the film. Most of these lines play off of Clouseau's naiveté, and while these are essentially stupid jokes, many will go over the heads of the audience which is there just to watch Martin fall down. The other bright spot of the film is the cast. While it’s not an Ocean’s movie, having Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Jean Reno, John Cleese, plus small roles with Lily Tomlin and Jeremy Irons is definitely impressive. (Although none of these beat the clever Clive Owen cameo in the first film.)

The one question which I have about The Pink Panther 2 is at whom is this film aimed? The first movie received the Film Advisory Board Award of Excellence (which recognizes family films). You won’t see any such stamp on this movie. On the surface, the pratfalls makes his look like another silly romp like the first movie, but kids won’t have any interest in the story or the romantic subplot between Clouseau and Nicole. In addition, the Lily Tomlin character has been put in place to keep Clouseau in line, and this part of the story contains some questionable dialogue about sex and racism. So, parents, be warned.

The Pink Panther 2 attempts to catch a Tornado on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.85:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is extremely sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The picture’s crispness is certainly impressive, reminding us of why we like Blu-ray Discs. The colors are outstanding, most notably reds and blues. The image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is very good (look at the cape Clouseau wears when he’s dressed at the Pope) and the picture has good depth. Slightly shiny skintones were the only issue that I saw. The Disc has a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 3.8 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good, most notably during crowd and street scenes. The surround sound effects come into play and are quite effective during the finale and the “falling through fireplaces” scene. This same scene brings some quality subwoofer action as well.

The Pink Panther 2 Blu-ray Disc contains only four extras. We get a 4-minute GAG REEL. "Drama is Easy...Comedy is Dangerous" (8 minutes) contains some behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the cast and filmmakers who discuss the approach to comedy in the film and how an emphasis was placed on physical humor. "A Dream Team Like No Other" (14 minutes) explores the cast and individually examines each character and actor. The cast comments on their character and their fellow actors. "Master Thief - Global Crime Showdown" is set-top game. In addition, the Blu-ray comes with an additional DVD which includes 27 classic Pink Panther cartoons. Where are the great teaser trailers for The Pink Panther 2 which showed Clouseau trying to get into see other movies?

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long