The Pink Panther 2 (Blu-ray)
Directed by Harald Zwart
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:11080pAVC codec
Running Time: 92 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish, French, Portuguese
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, others
Release Date: June 23, 2007
Review Date: June 26, 2007
Occasionally, a replica of a masterwork can suffice if one has need of an expert copy. We can’t all have the Mona Lisa in our living rooms, after all. But replicating genius characterizations in films never really works even with the most expert actors. Inspector Jacques Clouseau was the property of Peter Sellers, and no one has ever been able to approach what he did with the part: not Alan Arkin in a 1968 misfire or Ted Wass or Roberto Benigni in later attempts to extend the series. Without Sellers at his finest (and not all of his Clouseau films found him at his peak), you’re only going to get a very pale imitation of the original. The Pink Panther 2 is the second film in a new series of Clouseau movies starring Steve Martin as the bumbling French inspector. His comic characterization is slavishly true to Sellers’ wonderful bumbler, but it still has the aftertaste of imitation rather than that of a true original, and that zaps about half the fun out of whatever comic business has been invented for the movie.
A series of irreplaceable artifacts (including the priceless Pink Panther diamond) have been stolen from around the world by the world famous thief “The Tornado,” and the governments of the countries where thefts have occurred send their best detectives to form part of a “Dream Team” of inspectors who can hopefully get to the bottom of the crimes. From Italy comes Vicenzo (Andy Garcia), from Japan we have Kenji (Yuki Matsuzaki), England sends Pepperidge (Alfred Molina), and, naturally, France sends Clouseau (Steve Martin), much to the chagrin of his superior Inspector Dreyfus (John Cleese). Also along as assistants to the investigation are Clouseau’s right hand man Ponton (Jean Reno), his assistant Nicole (Emily Mortimer), and Hindi reporter Sonia (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) covering the investigation for the world press. The trail eventually takes them to Rome to the home of legendary thief Avellaneda (Jeremy Irons), but after that doesn’t pan out and the Pope's ring is stolen, the team is stymied about their next move.
Another of the problems the movie faces is not only the lack of Peter Sellers as Clouseau but also not having Blake Edwards as writer and director. His rock-solid construction of gags both verbal and visual for Sellers never let him down during the peak years of the series, and in The Pink Panther 2, there are only two moments where director Harald Zwart and screenwriters Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber, and Steve Martin remotely attain parity with the earlier films: in a hilarious flashback date between Clouseau and Nicole in a French restaurant which Clouseau manages to burn to the ground and in a later audience with the Pope with some nicely built sight gags once Clouseau inevitably falls off a high balcony. Other equally ambitious moments like a flamenco dance performed by Clouseau sink like a stone, and the frenetic finale has lots of action but few laughs and no surprises.
Martin’s follow-up to his original take on Clouseau is no better or worse than before; he’s got some of the verbal shtick just right, and he can be an adept physical comedian (though had the movie been made a decade or two earlier, he might have been able to handle more of his stunt work), but without a terrific comedy writer/director like Blake Edwards at the helm, he’s at the mercy of some poor pacing and some lame gags. Jean Reno makes a wonderfully pleasing associate for the inept detective, and other supporting cast like Andy Garcia and Alfred Molina do fine by their underwritten roles. Lily Tomlin makes a surprise and welcome addition to the company as a political correctness expert hired to keep Clouseau’s untempered comments under control, but with a creative comedy talent like Tomlin, much more could and should have been done with her.
The film’s 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered in a 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Color saturation is very pleasing and the film’s brightness makes many scenes pop with wonderful high definition dimensionality. The animated credit sequence alone is almost worth the price of the disc as the HD encode shows off its wonderful colors and beautiful animation exceptionally well. However, occasionally lighting will flatten image sharpness and density leaving a pale, unflattering, and soft image. The film has been divided into 28 chapters.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is predictably front centric. Music occasionally echoes into the rear channels (the score is by Christophe Beck along with Henry Mancini’s marvelous original theme music), but for all the action of the farcical elements of the movie, the rears should have been much more active.
The gag reel runs 3 ½ minutes and is in 480i.
“Drama Is Easy; Comedy Is Dangerous” is a 7 ¾-minute testament to all of the physical comedy and dangerous stunts accomplished during the making of the film with some behind-the-scenes shots showing actors and stuntpeople in harnesses doing the most dangerous stunts. It’s in 1080p.
“A Dream Team Like No Other” is a 14-minute tribute to the cast of the film with the director, various crew members, and the cast themselves all praising one another on their adeptness at comedy. It’s in 1080p.
“Master Thief: Global Crime Showdown” is a trivia game for one or two players as you’re asked a series of easy multiple choice trivia questions in an attempt to win back the Pink Panther diamond.
The disc has a 1080p trailer for Fame.
The second disc in the set is a digital copy of the film. Enclosed are directions for installing on PC and Mac devices.
The third disc in the set is a DVD featuring twenty-seven Pink Panther cartoons including the 1964 Oscar winner The Pink Phink. They’re presented in 4:3 format.
The Pink Panther 2 has a fine cast basically delivering second rate comedy goods that could have used the inspiration of a first rate comedy writer/director and the series’ original star. It’s not terrible, but it’s not very memorable either.