When I first heard that Steve Martin was taking over Peter Sellers’ iconic role as Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther (2006), I couldn’t believe it. Now, I don’t automatically discount the notion of remakes. After all, artists in the fields of theater and music frequently interpret other people’s works, and if it weren’t for remakes, the world of cinema would not have classics such as John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon or Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz. Yet, there are some stories and performances so ingrained into pop culture that new enterprises seemed doomed to failure.
I skipped Martin’s first foray, having no interest in the idea and no longer trusting him as a film comedian. I heard nothing good about it, so I was even more surprised to hear there was a sequel, The Pink Panther 2, which I ignored in theaters for the same reasons. I decided to review the Blu-ray set, expecting to savage the film, for purely selfish reasons since it came with an extra disc filled with Pink Panther cartoons. To my delight and surprise, I enjoyed it and was reminded to try something before automatically condemning it.
The story tells the tale of the cat burglar known as the Tornado, who has stolen treasures from countries around the world. An international team of detectives (Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, and Yuki Matsuzaki) is formed with France’s representative being Clouseau to the great chagrin of his superior, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese taking over for Kevin Kline). Sonia Solandres (Aishwarya Rai), a writer about the Tornado’s exploits, also joins the team. Clouseau bumbles along, leaving a good wake of destruction and damage, yet solves the mystery in an admittedly convoluted manner.
Although definitely geared towards a young audience, The Pink Panther 2 is surprisingly funny with all its silliness, from exaggerated accents to elaborate slapstick. There’s a wonderful and possibly complicated bit involving the juggling of wine bottles I hope was real and not CGI augmented. As a fan of the Sellers films, I was glad to see a sequence that paid homage to the Clouseau/Kato fights.
The film is a throwback to early Hollywood comedies and is good for the whole family, except maybe teenagers who are too cool for anything. My 15-year-old niece Sobrino Mono, who had already seen the film gave me a one-word review, "retarded," and had no interest in seeing it again. Ten-year-old nephew, Sobrino Poco Loco, found the film funny and thought it had a good story, particularly because he was able to solve the crime, which shows the film got him thinking.
The video is presented in 1.85:1. The high definition transfer showed fine details in the foreground, such as the texture of fabrics, but the cinematographer used a limited depth of field, causing most backgrounds to be slightly out of focus. The colors were bright and consistent although flesh tones leaned toward pink. Unfortunately, the green-screen effects, especially when driving or when the skyline was altered, were obvious and distracting.
The audio is available in English in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 5.1 Dolby Digital. The dialogue is clear, including the exaggerated accents, and positioned in the center. The surrounds and subwoofer are put to serviceable use without being overdone, although they are not called to do a lot. Henry Mancini’s classic theme is a natural standout.
The Special Features include a Gag Reel, which was slightly over three minutes but not very funny; “Drama is Easy…Comedy Is Dangerous” (HD), a look at physical comedy and stunt work, “A Dream Team Like No Other” (HD) focused on the cast. There was also a trivia game: "Master Life – Global Crime Showdown!" The participants need to answer two out of three questions related to an item and location before moving on to the finale with questions about movie. There is also a digital copy of the movie.
Even people who dislike the movie surely can’t be dissatisfied with the standard DVD of Pink Panther cartoons. It is the first disc from The Pink Panther Classic Cartoon Collection and was also released as a single DVD entitled Vol. 1: Pranks in the Pink. In chronological order, it presents the first 27 Pink Panther cartoons, including “The Pink Phink,” Oscar-winner for Animated Short Subject. The creative team can be seen trying to get a handle on the character as the normally mute cat speaks in “Sink Pink” and “Pink Ice.” Although they started as theatrical cartoons, some have a laugh track from television airings, like “Pink Blueprint.”
The combination of material makes The Pink Panther 2 a good choice for the family.