The Pink Panther 2

a film by Harald Zwart

Comic genius. I know the term gets bally-hooed about a lot, so its impact has lessened considerably over the years. The mantle has been placed on just about every comic actors shoulders as of late, from Adam Sandler to Eddie Murphy to Will Ferrell to Martin Lawrence to Mike Myers and Chevy Chase. Okay, maybe not Chevy Chase, but I have heard all the others, at one time or another, called such a thing. Another comic who has been bestowed the title has been Steve Martin, star of the first two remakes of the Pink Panther series. Now don't get me wrong, Steve Martin is a funny guy - probably one of the funniest people in show biz today - but comic genius? Sure, his antics over the years on SNL are more oft than not freakin' hilarious and now and again his films work on that level as well. But comic genius?

"Comic Genius" (purposefully in quotes now) is a term, like "masterpiece" or "best actor/actress of his/her generation" that is criminally overused. The lazy critic's quick writ response to something they laughed at once or twice. Sure Steve Martin is very funny - as are the aforementioned Mike Myers and even Will Ferrell in small doses - but the term "comic genius" is probably a bit of a stretch. Peter Sellers, the original Inspector Clouseau in the original Pink Panther, was a comic genius. Let's just leave the title there. No need to spread the wealth all willy-nilly no matter how occasionally funny Mr. Martin is in the things he does. Unfortunately what said Mr. Martin does here is far from genius material. far far far from it. So when it comes to the newest installment in one of the oldest franchises still in existence (or more aptly re-existence) the term need not be spoken, written and/or twittered. Let's just leave that at that.

Wickedly unfunny, this latest reinstallment is just a really bad movie. No cute asides. No fancy adjectives. Nothing of the sort needed. Simply as simply can be, this movie sucked. To quote a rather famous (or infamous) line of derision from Roger Ebert - I hated, hated, hated this movie. I suppose, considering the overall - and quite inarguable - rottenness of this movie, I should have no worries about anyone in their right mind calling anything about this movie genius. The sad part about it all though is how great this film (and/or its first remake predecessor) could have been - should have been. Perhaps not the proverbial comic genius I ranted about before, but Martin is a more than capable comic actor. His rare combination of silly irreverence and honest pathos would make for a more than capable Clouseau but alas all we get is a dying beast whose only seeming reason for existing is to make a mockery of Blake Edwards' original Pink Panther. Too bad for all the comics, genius or otherwise. [02/07/09]