Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Talk about the Curse of the Pink Panther...

I was over at Joe Bannerman's (Opposable Thumbs) house last night, and he called up the trailer for the upcoming Pink Panther remake with Steve Martin stupidly attempting to fill the shoes of the immortal Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau.

Appallingly, the film looks worse than I thought it would, which is saying something. When you start with a roughly two-hour long movie and can't find one actually amusing gag to put in the trailer, you know you're in trouble. Instead, I was wincing at every single 'joke' the trailer served up, and depressed to see what appeared to be a CGI effect being used to realize a very unfunny looking spring-loaded badge gag. Good lord, people, it's 'physical' comedy. Rig up an actual prop, you morons.

Martin looks embarrassingly unfunny as Clouseau, with Kevin Kline similarly humiliating himself by attempting to replace Herbert Lom as Clouseau's boss, Dreyfus. Good idea, Mr. Kline. Your attempt to replace Ross Martin in Wild Wild West went so swimmingly, after all.

To make sure that people get when Martin is meant to be acting wacky, they have given him a straitlaced partner, played by Jean Reno. Both Joe and I instantly agreed that Reno would have, in fact, been a *much* better choice to play Clouseau, and Joe also had the extremely funny idea that if Martin was going to do Clouseau's comic book French accent, then the French Reno should affect a comic book American accent. I told him that in ten seconds he had thought of a funnier bit than the people given tens of millions of dollars to make this film did during its entire production cycle, and I expect I will be proven correct.

This series is harder to put down than a Romero horde of zombies, and about as fun to experience. Sellers [i]was[i/] Clouseau, and every attempt to work around him--Alan Arkin in 1968's Inspector Clouseau, 1982's Trail of the Pink Panther (deleted scenes of Sellers from previous films stitched together after his death), Ted Wass as an American Clouseau fill-in in 1983's Curse of the Pink Panther* and Roberto Benigni as 1993's Son of the Pink Panther--have sucked to an outrageous extent.

[*"Son of the Pink Panther" makes no sense, of course. Benigni was playing the son of Clouseau, of course, but Clouseau was not the 'Pink Panther.' The Pink Panther was a huge gem known for a flaw that resembled that animal. The gem featured in a number of the movies, but not more than half of them, and again, that title makes no sense in any case.]

Aside from Sellers, the other man responsible for the classic Pink Panther films--A Shot in the Dark is my favorite, a simply classic comedy--was director Blake Edwards. He was behind several of the above Sellers-less fiascos, and this one won't even have him on board. The director's main reason for getting this job, apparently, was that he had earlier directly Martin's mild and mildly successful remake of Cheaper by the Dozen.

[UPDATE] Sony/MGM has pushed the release date of the new Pink Panther to February, in order to "develop it's marketing effort." Hey, it's harder to market a self-evidentally unfunny piece o' crap. Of course, they are in one of those ludicrous stiff upper lip modes--"We love the movie" and "It's sure to become a bit tentpole francise for us!"--but you can't hide this one's smell.


At 10:05 AM, Blogger BeckoningChasm said...

Opening in February? In studio-speak, that translates to "It sucks too much, even for us!"

At 12:27 AM, Blogger culfy said...

Didn't Steve Martin use to be funny? Or is this just a memory clouded with nostalgia?

At 1:01 AM, Anonymous Chris M said...

Wait, next February? Man... there are a lot of lobby stand-ups sitting around in Australian theatres for this one. Either I'm going to be seeing that pencilled moustache for the rest of the year, or someone from the studios going to have to fly down under, pack them all up in a black SUV, and drive them back to the Hellywood they came from.


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