By Jason McKay
“A woman is like an artichoke, you have to work a bit to get to the heart.”
These famous words were once spoken by France’s “best” investigator, Inspector Clouseau. Thankfully, Steve Martin’s newest film, The Pink Panther, isn’t a woman.
The film succeeds for a variety of reasons, chief among them is director Shawn Levy who also directed Martin in the Cheaper by the Dozen films. Levy has managed to blend the structure of the movie nicely, mixing moments of physical comedy in a compelling way. This keeps audiences intrigued and amused throughout until the moments of pure hilarity resurface.
In this latest incarnation of the Pink Panther, the bumbling Inspector Clouseau must solve the murder of a national hero and a theft most foul. Martin’s portrayal of the inspector is spot on and truly brings the character to full comedic life. Martin’s performance is similar to his other work in films like Bowfinger and Father of the Bride. Martin is able to capture the character Peter Sellers left behind with his premature death and breathes new life into a once dead franchise. Setting the current incarnation as prequel helped eliminate any potential continuity problems between Martin and Seller’s portrayals.
Clouseau’s boss, the egocentric Chief Inspector Dreyfus (played by Kevin Kline), is done well, managing to bring life to a cold and isolated character. Kline pulls off the character flawlessly, creating a perfect target for the works and mishaps of Inspector Clouseau. The sole ambition of Dreyfus is to get the National Medal of Honour, for which he has been nominated seven times, but has failed to actually win. To achieve this goal, Clouseau is assigned to the case, but the move backfires on Dreyfus in unexpected, but hilarious ways.
One the best moments in the Pink Panther is a spoof on the James Bond series where an appearance by 006 who is on assignment in a casino of all places added some subtle humour to the middle of the film, helping to prevent it from dragging.
While the plot doesn’t deliver anything unexpected, the film remains a good comedy nonetheless. So while a woman might be like an artichoke, it doesn’t take much effort to get to the heart of this film. And if nothing else, there is always Beyonce Knowles, who always conveniently shows up in something low cut at just the right times.