As someone who grew up with the later batch of Pink Panther movies, I came to this “prequel” with a certain amount of trepidation. Peter Sellers made Clouseau so much his own, that anyone, even someone as skilled as Steve Martin would find it impossible to play the character “correctly”. In truth, he tries hard and at times is very very funny (I was in stitches in one scene) but unfortunately, I found the ghost of Peter Sellers taking over every scene the hapless detective found himself in.
There is also the issue of this being a prequel to the first movie, despite the fact that Steve Martin looks older than Peter Sellers did in the original 1964 movie and this version is set in the present day. It’s probably best not to examine it too closely!
The movie is entertaining, in fits and starts and Steve Martin works very hard (maybe too much so) to play what is, ultimately, an unplayable role (see above). I think this movie will be appreciated more by kids who are new to the character and who laugh at seeing the hapless detective get his hand stuck in jugs, fall down stairs etc. The problem was that every time he made a hapless boob, I remembered Peter Sellers doing the same thing – but better.
It was probably an impossible act to follow and there is certainly a question as to why a new set of film-makers even bothered, but in my humble opinion, The Pink Panther movies ended when Peter Sellers left this mortal coil at the criminally young age of 54.
The Teacher’s rating: Ok, but kids will probably enjoy it more.
* * * (out of 5)