I'll be among the first to admit that I'm a huge fan of Steve Martin. His intelligent, yet zany gift for acting, comedy, and slapstick makes him unique. I'll also be the first to admit that his first Pink Panther (2006) wasn't that great a film. It had its moments, but never really worked for me.
So when I had a chance to review Pink Panther 2, I hesitated. However, it has such a great cast that I had to see how it turned out. And I'm glad I did. I actually liked it a lot more than the first one.
Pink Panther 2 picks up awhile after the first movie ends. Chief Inspector Dreyfus (played beautifully by John Cleese) has assigned Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) to issuing parking tickets. Since Clouseau stole the credit for saving the Pink Panther diamond from Dreyfus, the Chief Inspector has worked hard to keep the bumbling Inspector out of his way. Unfortunately for Dreyfus, Clouseau is requested to become part of a "dream team" of international detectives working to stop a series of high profile thefts around the world by a thief known as "The Tornado."
To find these artifacts (the Magna Carta, the Shroud of Turin, an ancient Samurai sword, the Pope's ring, and the Pink Panther diamond), the dream team investigates the site of the most recent theft (the diamond) and begin piecing together what The Tornado is up to. Inspector Vicenzo (Andy Garcia) from Italy; Chief Inspector Randall Pepperidge (Alfred Molina) from the New Scotland Yard; Kenji Mazuto (Yuki Matsuzaki) from Japan; and Sonia Solandres (Aishwarya Rai), a biographer of The Tornado, work with Clouseau to solve the case. Of course, it's not that simple. Clouseau manages to bumble his way through crime scenes, interviews, press encounters, and so on, but eventually the case is solved.
Along the way we encounter Mrs. Berenger (the always amazing Lily Tomlin), who acts as the political correctness advisor for the French Police. She and Clouseau have some highly amusing scenes where we learn more of the Inspector's way of looking at the world. Some of the better scenes between the two include a hilarious one about sexual harassment and another about racial discrimination. Tomlin and Martin haven't worked together since 1984's All of Me, but the give-and-take relationship between them is still apparent.
We also see more of the relationship between Clouseau and Nicole Durant (Emily Mortimer) in this film. The flashback scene at a restaurant in Rome includes one of the most amazing bits of slapstick and comic timing that I have seen in a very long time. As Clouseau attempts to pick out a wine for their dinner date, he bumps into the wine rack and bottles begin falling. Martin manages to juggle the bottles over to the waiters in the restaurants as they fall, and does so with typical Clouseau style. That scene appears fairly early in the film and was enough to keep me watching to the end.
Overall, I think Pink Panther 2 is a much funnier film than the first Martin entry into the franchise. The interactions between the supporting actors — Garcia, Molina, Matsuzaki, and Rai – and Martin were always well done. It is clear that the cast had a great time working together as an ensemble. And, seeing Tomlin and Martin together again is a thrill.
In addition to the movie itself, the DVD includes three special features. The "Gag Reel" is a great collection of gaffes and mistakes from the filming. Here again, the camaraderie amongst the cast and crew is readily apparent. But, then again, who wouldn't have fun working with these great actors?
"Drama is Easy… Comedy is Dangerous" focuses on the many comedic stunts in the film. Martin still has a gift for physical comedy, and in my mind his gift is rivaled only by John Cleese (who, of course, also appears in this). The director and producers speak in this featurette about the difficulty of having a physically demanding film.
Finally, in "A Dream Team Like No Other," we get to hear more from the cast about working together. This is an amazing group of talented professionals and it's great to hear from each of them.
All in all, I have to say I really enjoyed The Pink Panther 2 and look forward to seeing what happens in future Pink Panther films (if there are any). Though this movie didn't do well at the box office, I think it will do well on DVD. Be sure to pick up a copy at your local rental store or retailer.