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Movie Review

The Magna Carta. The Shroud of Turin. The Japanese Imperial Sword.

These are a few of the priceless artifacts that have been stolen by a nefarious thief named the Tornado. But even though this genteel pilferer politely leaves a business card behind at each crime scene, no one can figure out who he is. And so the authorities call in a team of world-famous detectives to solve the case and nab the crook.

But what would an investigative dream team be without intrepid Inspector Jacques Clouseau? And since Chief Inspector Dreyfus has had him kicked down to traffic duty for the last several months, the thickly accented Sherlock is tanned, rested and ready to start sleuthing.

So Clouseau packs his bag to join the team. Practically the second he steps foot out of his native France, however, the fabled Pink Panther diamond gets snatched. This means war!

Clear the streets, grab your kids and get out of the way: The bumbling, stumbling, one-man demolition squad known the world over as Inspector Clouseau is on the case once again.

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Positive Elements

Despite the fact that Clouseau is pretty much a train wreck waiting to happen, he is dedicated to his profession. Beneath his seemingly oblivious exterior lies a fairly knowledgeable detective.

Clouseau and his female assistant, Nicole, share a loving concern for each other that they hide from the public eye. Still, Clouseau hesitates to tell Nicole how lovely he considers her. "If she knew how pretty she is," he reasons, "she might choose someone other than me." But the detective's associate, Ponton, encourages him to admit his feelings, which eventually leads to a relationship between Clouseau and Nicole.

Spiritual Content

The Tornado steals the Pope's ring, which kicks off a series of silly gags that mock traditional Vatican proceedings and the papacy. Clouseau dresses up in papal robes and unintentionally goofs around in front of gathering crowds—including an impromptu plunge off the papal balcony that prompts fainting spells from watching nuns.

The movie treats Clouseau's ignorance regarding the Pope as fodder for comedy. More often, though, it just seems disrespectful of Catholic religious traditions. Clouseau accuses the Pope of stealing his own ring, for instance, and he makes an inappropriate crack about the Pope's having a wife. For his part, the Pope speaks of admiring the Lord's handiwork.

A poster of the Shroud of Turin supposedly depicts Jesus' face. Later, Clouseau shakes dust from the shroud. During a wedding ceremony, Clouseau makes a derogatory remark regarding what Scripture says about a wife's relationship to her husband.

Sexual Content

A female writer who often wears tight, cleavage-revealing outfits tags along with the team of detectives, and she makes several intimate overtures toward Clouseau. (Nothing comes of it other than a hug.) Nicole wears some formfitting dresses and tops as well, but she is generally more conservative in her appearance. She and Clouseau kiss.

A police department therapist has several meetings with Clouseau to discuss proper sexual conduct in the workplace. That, of course, triggers improper conduct on his part, such as ogling the therapist and other women and making suggestive statements such as, "Enough of this foreplay." Clouseau tells Nicole, "You're like a brother to me. A hot, sexy brother in a dress." His instructions to a group of detectives include this unintentional double entendre: "Nicole is here to service your needs. So feel free to use her in any way you wish." He seems equally oblivious to possible sexual connotations when he hollers at Ponton, "I'm sorry you cannot satisfy your wife!"

Elsewhere, a therapist grabs a man's leg suggestively. An Italian policeman is portrayed as an oversexed lothario; he pats Nicole on the backside. One of the detectives promises to run naked in a tutu if Clouseau solves the case. Later it looks as if he might make good on that dare, but he pairs a ballerina outfit with the tutu instead.

Violent Content

As might be expected, tumbling pratfalls rule in Pink Panther 2, with Clouseau constantly at the center of the slapstick action.

As the dream-team detectives interrogate a suspect at his rambling estate, we watch Clouseau on closed-circuit TV bumbling around looking for clues. He falls off a roof, gets run over by horses, blasts through a window, rips a chandelier from the ceiling, smashes tables, demolishes a study and crashes down through three fireplaces—all in the space of a few minutes. In another destructive scene (reminiscent of classic Pink Panther fare), Clouseau has a karate "fight" with Ponton's two sons. They run, scream and smash things in his apartment, eventually hurling the detective through his splintered front door.

The French inspector isn't alone when it comes to such Three Stooges-like physical comedy. Other characters also get bonked, pummeled, splashed and rolled in the inane mayhem.

Several scenes depict more serious violence. A man is found lying face down and dead on the floor. (He has been shot, but the crime scene is bloodless.) A woman shoots Clouseau point-blank with a handgun. (Later, Chief Inspector Dreyfus intones, "I wish I'd shot him.") And Clouseau's clumsy actions knock flaming desserts into tablecloths and curtains, burning the same restaurant to the ground ... twice.

Crude or Profane Language

All this madcap action is almost profanity free. But one character does say "a--." And there are two misuses of God's name. We also hear name-calling such as "nitwit" and "idiot."

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is downed with dinner in two restaurant scenes. Clouseau also sips wine on a plane flight. One scene involves an entire room full of people juggling wine bottles. A man has a glass of champagne and throws the bottle at a TV.

Other Negative Elements

Clouseau dubs a Japanese detective "my little yellow friend." (a racist remark that echoes the original movies and which is later described as bigoted language). After their battle scene, Clouseau holds Ponton's two boys off his balcony, each by a leg.

Conclusion

I'm old enough to remember the original Pink Panther movies and actor Peter Sellers' inimitable take on the clueless Clouseau. And while those comedies definitely had some problems, Sellers brought a kind of mad genius to his character that's nigh on impossible to duplicate. For some reason, though, executives at Columbia Pictures keep green-lighting ill-advised attempts to do so—even as Steve Martin's Clouseau keeps falling on his face. And not in a funny way.

Even if you set less-than-flattering comparisons aside and pretend that no Panthers have ever prowled before, The Pink Panther 2 has few laughs worth mentioning. Martin told reelxchannel.com, "It's got some low comedy and high comedy for everybody. I always think that's a perfect combination." But those attempts at comedy feel neither low nor high. Just sorta dumb. Clouseau's famous English-mangling accent just never hits the mark.

To make up for these deficits, the movie predictably relies upon stale slapstick as well as a fair bit of sexual innuendo—an unwanted element that's most certainly not for everyone, especially the family audience this goofy-but-unimaginative PG-rated reboot is ostensibly aiming for.

So with those thoughts in mind, let me try on my best Clouseau immitation to sum things up: "Diz movie iz, how you say, peee-yeew!"

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