Can Steve Martin, the king of remakes, do right by the Pink Panther? It's highly doubtful. Peter Sellers left behind some pretty goofy shoes to fill.
The coach of the French national soccer team is murdered in the moment of his team's greatest triumph, and his prized possession, the famed Pink Panther diamond ring, stolen from his hand. It will require crack police work to solve this crime, since many people had a motive to kill the coach. So naturally Chief Inspector Dreyfus will appoint his crack police investigators to the case, no? Well, no. In order to make himself look better, Dreyfus sends for the most clueless, most bumbling police officer in all of France: Jacques Clouseau.
Clouseau and his assigned assistant, Ponton, start tracking down clues—in between various pratfalls and false leads, that is. Finally, Clouseau determines that the murderer will try to strike again at a charity ball at the Presidential Palace. Will Clouseau get there in time? Will Dreyfus try to steal the glory? And in the meantime, how many people will be injured by Clouseau's bumbling?
For all his ineptitude, Clouseau is a dutiful and dedicated police officer, which, when compared to Dreyfus' self-centered cynicism, is the more appealing characteristic. Ponton, originally drafted by Dreyfus to impede Clouseau progress and report on his whereabouts, comes to see who is the better man and turns all his efforts to helping Clouseau. Nicole is also willing to overlook Clouseau's ineptitude to help him.
A nun is one of several people nominated for a humanitarian award. Dreyfus has a picture of himself with Pope John Paul II in his office.
Many sexual sight gags and double entendres mar this PG film. Sight gags involving Nicole and Clouseau make others think they're engaging in extreme sexual activity (including oral sex in public), with much flailing, moaning and screaming. There is always a more innocent explanation, of course. Thinking he's going to have sex with Xania, Clouseau tries to take a Viagra pill (he calls it "the little blue pill for middle-aged men").
Clouseau's nearly impenetrable French accent also plays a role in mistaken double entendres about male anatomy, among other things. It's implied that Clouseau accidentally shocks his genitals with electrodes, and we later see smoke coming from the fly of his pants. During a cartoon sequence running under the opening credits, Clouseau's gun blows his pants off. Clouseau says his e-mail address is "firstname.lastname@example.org."
Clouseau gives Nicole's rear end a playful whack, and later he describes her as "sexy." The two also kiss. It's said that the dead soccer coach had been cheating on his girlfriend. Various women wear dresses that are cut so low they don't just show cleavage, they reveal portions of their stomachs.
Pratfalls and various spills, bicycle wrecks, falls from heights and other slapstick is almost constant in this film, and it's all played for laughs. An old woman is knocked unconscious by a flying police light. A man in an electric wheelchair crashes backward into a restaurant. Clouseau's finger is smashed in a slamming door. Bandits are shot with a dart gun, a man is whacked with a chair, and Clouseau and Ponton engage in a fistfight with some other men.
Clouseau accidentally sets a shower curtain on fire, and later he falls through a floor weakened by overflowing water. A hospital bed with a man still in it flies out a window and lands in the Seine River. A police dog lunges at Clouseau's crotch, and a security inspector finds knives, maces and other instruments of torture in Clouseau's luggage. Clouseau accidentally knees a man in the groin, and he accidentally shocks himself with a hairdryer. (If he were anything other than the live-action cartoon character that he is, he would have died from the jolt.)
More seriously, we see the dot from a gun's laser sight on a man's forehead moments before we hear a gunshot and see the man fall dead. A man is dragged by a car. And we see the poison dart stuck in the coach's neck.
Crude or Profane Language
Two uses of "h---" and one of "bastard." God's name is misused three times. Clouseau's inability to pronounce the word hamburger makes it sound as if he is adding a d to the beginning. To try to elicit more laughs from bored audiences, he mangles the word over and over again.
Drug and Alcohol Content
A flaming alcoholic drink is featured twice. Clouseau offers a suspect a cigarette. (It's declined.)
Other Negative Elements
Viewers are "treated" to an extended flatulence gag. The song over the closing credits with Beyoncé Knowles (featuring Slim Thug) uses the line, "Let's check out the bump-and-grind."
Based on the classic series of movies starring the comically brilliant Peter Sellers, this Pink Panther can only suffer by comparison. To his credit, Steve Martin tries to make Clouseau his own character. Whereas Sellers' detective was oblivious to the mayhem he caused and managed to solve crimes despite himself, Martin uses Clouseau's reaction to the mayhem as part of his shtick, and he actually shows a bit of police smarts. But it didn't take very many minutes to convince me that, comically, the former was the better way to play it.
Martin isn't helped by the fact that there are a few genuinely funny moments scripted for him. Throw in completely unnecessary sexual gags and you're left with a very faded Pink Panther who should have been allowed to rest in peace—or at the very least, left to continue selling fiberglass insulation, not major motion pictures.