The first reboot of The Pink Panther franchise with Steve Martin felt nothing like the manic absurdity of the Peter Sellers/Blake Edwards originals, but it made enough money to get a greenlight for a second installment.
Besides Martin, who lately has become a comic performer in theory rather than through actual practice, the first film earned a modicum of affection thanks to the ever-reliable Jean Reno and the awkward grace of Emily Mortimer. This time out, Martin gets additional assistance from Andy Garcia, Alfred Molina, Yuki Matsuzaki and the impossibly beautiful Aishwarya Rai as a dream team of bumbling international detectives stumbling around the world in pursuit of a thieving mastermind (codenamed The Hurricane for his quick work) who has pilfered countless world treasures and irreplaceable artifacts like The Shroud of Turin and has set his sights on the Pink Panther diamond, which is under the watchful eye of Martin’s Clouseau who must also defend his romantic claim to Nicole (Mortimer) from the caddish Vincenzo (Garcia).
Extra laughs are doled out to John Cleese as Chief Inspector Dreyfus (replacing Kevin Kline) and the politically correct minder Mrs. Berenger (Lily Tomlin) hired to keep Clouseau in line.
Altogether, this collection of talent makes PP2 better than the first one, but that’s hardly evidence to support the actual need for either movie and the bumbling bean counters at the studio will be hard pressed to flip the greenlight for another run. Grade: C
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