The Pink Panther (Sony Pictures, 2006)

The head coach of the French national soccer team is murdered after a big win, with his prized ring The Pink Panther removed from his finger in the process, and Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) needs to find the killer. Hoping to boost his own image in the process, Dreyfus concocts a strange scheme. He works covertly with a crack team of France's top investigators, and will "step in" when a suitably incompetent investigator chosen by him bungles the job and publicly embarrasses himself. Naturally, the right man for this job is the dimwitted, clumsy Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin), and the stage is set for Shawn Levy's new version of The Pink Panther, based on the classic series of comedies from the sixties and seventies created by Blake Edwards and starring the legendary Peter Sellers.

As I've said before, I'm suspicious of re-makes, but I had enough confidence in the comedic abilities of Martin and Kilne to give this movie a chance. While some of the comedy is a little too predictable -- it's never hard to tell when something is about to get broken or catch fire -- the movie does for the most part deliver on the laughs. Beyoncé Knowles does fine as Xania, the murdered coach's girlfriend, and Jean Reno and Emily Mortimer also provide good support as Clouseau's sidekick Ponton and assistant Nicole. Ultimately though, I think liking The Pink Panther depends on what expectations you go in with. If you think Martin's Inspector Clouseau will make you roll on the floor the way Peter Sellers did, you will probably be disappointed. If you go in hoping for some good laughs and silly but entertaining physical comedy, you'll feel you got your money's worth.

Overall Grade: B-

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