Not 10 minutes into The Pink Panther 2, Steve Martin’s Inspector Jacques Clouseau sets a restaurant on fire. He’ll do it again toward the film’s end—and mug, and juggle, and otherwise knock himself senseless throughout the sequel’s intervening 92 minutes, pausing occasionally to analyze a crime or to bleed every last drop of humor out of the first film’s decent hamburger-mispronunciation joke.
Martin’s 2006 remake of the Peter Sellers classic may have been widely panned, but if you kept your expectations low, it did offer a few chuckles. (As well as a parade of shocking co-stars: Jean Reno? Kevin Kline? Clive friggin’ Owen??) So you might be hoping that the comedian’s latest paycheck-grab isn’t completely shameful—perhaps a light matinee that will prove harmless if you’re honest about its paint-by-dollar-signs pedigree.
I won’t bother delineating the plot, which barely exists to begin with. Instead I’ll list a few critical details and let you be the judge:
1) The director, Harald Zwart, previously made a pair of films titled Long Flat Balls I and II.
2) The scripters, Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, are freshmen writers, though a credit is also given to Martin, who likely offered some guidance when his ego just couldn’t sink any lower.
3) Shoulda-known-better, honest-to-God thespians Emily Mortimer and Jean Reno return, this time joined by Jeremy Irons, John Cleese, Alfred Molina, Andy Garcia, and Lily Tomlin.
4) Lily Tomlin’s character—an etiquette teacher assigned to introduce Clouseau to political correctness—is completely superfluous, as is Aishwarya Rai’s detective, who’s mostly tasked with looking pretty, though it’s difficult to appreciate the World’s Most Beautiful Woman when she’s buried under Hollywood-homogenizing makeup.
5) John Cleese—he of the Ministry of Silly Walks—is way too classy to take over for the more appropriately goofy Kline as a scheming chief inspector.
6) Jean Reno, more of a simpleton this time around, happily spends an evening washing Martin’s hair—and then they both break out into a little song-and-dance inspired by the pronunciation of “jojoba.”
7) Martin gets beaten up by children. (Though it’s admittedly kinda funny when he later hangs them over a balcony yelling, “Die, little piglets!”)
8) Alfred Molina wears a tutu and tiara.
9) Rare, dry lines such as “I had to quit being a Buddhist because I have so much hate” are likely to get ignored by an audience awaiting more pie-in-the-face-type jokes.
10) Aforementioned jokes include Clouseau telling a new investigator, “Let me bring you up to speed. We have nothing. You are now up to speed.”
And with that, you, too, are now up to speed. Please don’t give Martin any more of your money—at least not for Pink Panther 2.