DVD Brings Steve Martin Back as Bumbling Inspector Clouseau
Here’s the nagging question I kept asking myself while watching Pink Panther 2: Is Inspector Clouseau supposed to be this annoying or is it just Steve Martin? Shortly after 9-11, France fell into disfavor because of its underwhelming show of support of the Bush Doctrine and the War on Terrorism. So, for a few years, Hollywood had a field day at the expense of the French, routinely portraying them mostly in some unflattering combination of evil, cowardly, rude and uncouth.
When the Pink Panther franchise was revived a few years ago, it never occurred to me that Steve Martin might have been reinterpreting the character instead of merely doing a poor man’s impersonation of Peter Sellers. Even though the picture was roundly panned by the critics, I guess the movie must have done well at the box office because they decided to make this even sorrier sequel.
If memory serves me right, Peter Sellers’ approach to Clouseau was marked mostly by mime-like, self-deprecating slapstick, not by poking fun at others. This cuts a sharp contrast with the version of Martin who is not above hurling ethnic insults. For instance, he refers to a Japanese colleague as “my little yellow friend.” And in another scene, Asians are again the butt of the joke when he suggests that they are all bad drivers.
To me, this sort of offensive humor isn’t funny and certainly shouldn’t be rated a kid-friendly PG, for that suggests that it is somehow okay for impressionable young minds to be exposed to hateful ethnic stereotyping. In this unifying Age of Obama, irrelevant Steve Martin should go back to his stand-up act where he shoots an arrow through his head, rather than mar the memory of a beloved icon by trading in ugly racial slurs.
Poor (0 stars)
Rated PG for comical violence, suggestive material, ethnic humor and mild epithets.
Running time: 92 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
2-Disc DVD extras: Pink Panther classic cartoon collection, gag reel, trailers, plus a couple of featurettes.