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The Pink Panther Reviews

Sacre bleu! Bumbling French police inspector Jacques Clouseau is back, and he's never been less funny. Despite the title, this weak addition to the PINK PANTHER series isn't a remake of the 1964 Blake Edwards classic, but a prequel that casts Steve Martin in the role Peter Sellers made famous then wore out over the course of four sequels (1982's TRAIL OF THE PINK PANTHER is a morbid hodgepodge Edwards cobbled out of old footage two years after Sellers' death). Clouseau, whose incompetence as a provincial gendarme has become the stuff of legend in Paris (he's seen arresting a basset hound and a baby before collaring Pierre Fouquat himself for the murder of Pierre Fouquat), is called to the City of Lights when famous French soccer coach Yves Gluant (Jason Statham) is murdered on the field after his team wins an important game against China. A dart dipped in a rare Chinese poison is found in his neck, and the famous Pink Panther diamond, which Glaunt wore in a ring, is missing. Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline, in the role originated by Herbert Lom) assigns Clouseau to the case, not because he thinks he can solve it but because he's certain the clumsy and astonishingly self-confident officer will distract the media from his own investigation. Dreyfus promotes Clouseau to inspector and teams him with Gendarme Gilbert Ponton (Jean Reno), though Ponton's real job is to keep an eye on Clouseau and report his every move. There's no dearth of suspects. Everyone seems to have hated Glaunt — but pop singer Xania (Beyonce Knowles), her ex-boyfriend, soccer star Jacquard (Scott Adkins), and Yuri (Henry Czerny) — a trainer whose only crime seems to be that his Russian accent is nearly as thick as Clouseau's — top the list. Even so, rather than closing in on the culprit, Clouseau gets caught in an accidental lewd clinch with Dreyfus' assistant (Emily Mortimer); sets fire to his own testicles; is falsely credited with apprehending the "Gas Mask Bandits," an operation actually pulled off by British Secret Agent 006 (uncredited would-be Bond, Clive Owen); and causes an international incident at a New York airport. Martin, Mortimer, Kline, Reno: It's amazing how so much talent can amount to so little. Martin fares no worse than Roberto Benigni who played Clouseau's son in BLAKE EDWARDS' SON OF THE PINK PANTHER (1993), but the script he helped write is bland, unfunny and filled with crude sight gags that can't touch Sellers at his laziest.