Pink Panther2He’s back. The Pink Panther finally returns to the big screen.

Admittedly, I enjoyed the original run of the Pink Panther movie franchises from way back when, giggled at 1993’s attempt to relaunch the series with the Son of Pink Panther, and thoroughly enjoyed the 2006 reboot of the brand with Steve Martin’s aptly named, The Pink Panther.

So needless to say, I fully welcome the return to the big screen of Steve’s adaptation in The Pink Panther 2, this time directed by fairly unknown director Harald Zwart and penned by a new team consisting of Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber and Steve Martin himself. The movie features the return of most of the original 2006 cast, including Steve Martin as Inspector Jacques Clouseau, Jean Reno as Ponton and Emily Mortimer as Nicole. John Cleese however now replaces Kevin Kline as the hapless Chief Inspector Dreyfus and added into the mix we get Andy Garcia as Vicenzo, Alfred Molina as Pepperidge, Yuki Matsuzaki as Kenji and as an added bonus, Aishwarya Rai as Sonia.

Moving forward from the last mission where Clouseau solved the mystery of the football coach’s murder and in so doing, saved the legendary Pink Panther gem, we now find the clueless inspector happily writing out parking tickets and ensuring that the rule of the road is being followed literally to the letter.

However, these tranquil times are not to remain so for long, as a mysterious, untraceable master thief known only as the Tornado comes back out of retirement and starts a campaign of stealing the world’s most priceless artifacts, including articles like the Shroud of Turin and the Pope’s sacred Ring of the Fisherman. Needless to say, France’s fabled Pink Panther gem is too targeted and Interpol hastily scrambles to assemble a super team of detectives, led by none other than the legendary Clousseau himself.

Tensions however quickly run high as you can hardly put some of the greatest minds of our time thrust together in a room and not expect a bit of a tiff when egos collide, and it certainly doesn’t help when the man in charge is pretty much under the kosh for his rather un-PC approach to just about everything from women to racism and just happens to employ some of the most unconventional policing techniques you could ever hope to find!

And then there is the question of love and jealousy to take into consideration as well, though in all this mist and confusion, just what exactly is going to happen to the missing Pink Panther it must be asked…

Unfortunately, it must be said that as all sequels generally go, The Pink Panther 2 is certainly not as strong as the first outing and that’s a pity because with such a strong comedic cast you can’t help but expect just that little more from the story. Sure the twists and surprises are still present, but they aren’t strong, can be seen through pretty quickly and this spoils the strength of the story just that little bit. Performances by the supporting actors, particularly Aishwarya Rai are not particularly strong and even John Cleese feels quite out of place in my mind.

Thankfully though not all is lost because the hilarious chemistry between Jean Reno and Steve Martin works as well as it did in the first outing and Steve Martin himself once again captures the spirit of Inspector Clouseau perfectly, leaving you quite often with a rather alarming case of the giggles whenever a scene passes him by. I don’t think that any other actor (apart from maybe Rowan Atkinson) could pull off Clouseau as well as Steve can, and that in itself makes Pink Panther worthy enough of a watch.

Like I said the story itself isn’t particularly strong and a lot of the humour (slapstick in nature because that is what Pink Panther is famous for) doesn’t always work that well with some of the actors, but a clever use of music and sound combined with the action on screen does lend itself to some particularly funny moments and the use of the classic Pink Panther score forces this not necessarily spectacular entry firmly into place within this long-running franchise.

The movie is certainly worth a laugh and is pretty fun to sit through, so I guess if you are looking for some light-hearted, fun entertainment that the family as a whole can enjoy, then The Pink Panther 2 certainly fits the bill, but I’m afraid that this is one movie that probably could have gone direct to DVD in the first place.

Pity really, but at least my laughing muscles did get a bit of a workout.

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