In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_6svpck54r9k0mz9xcfzswrxcin

Winter Sleep

The running time of his new picture Winter Sleep, three hours and change, suggests weight, but at it happens, this movie struck me as both…

Thumb_oax1ohn3ltgrf3vlh5ff28w0yjn

Mr. Turner

Filmmaker Mike Leigh's biography of the landscape painter J.M.W. Turner is what critics call "austere"—which means it's slow and grim and deliberately hard to love—yet…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

The Pink Panther Strikes Again

  |  

Inspector Clouseau is, you will recall, the world's most incompetent detective. But at least in the past he has been assigned to fairly unimportant cases -- such as the one involving the theft of the world's most precious jewel. In "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," he finds himself up against a slightly more difficult case. The United Nations building has disappeared from the face of the Earth, and now a madman has gone on television to announce that all England will be next. No more warm beer, no more Picadilly Circus...

Clouseau is assigned to the case. Well, not exactly assigned; it's just that he exudes an ill-fated magnetism for trouble of this sort. Conspirators and spies and mysterious young women have a way of gathering around him, usually while he is involved in the study of something totally insignificant, such as the operation of a light switch. This time, Clouseau's on a world scale: His old rival in the Paris police (Herbert Lom) has taken over a Transylvanian castle, installed a mad scientist and announced that he will destroy the world ... unless Clouseau is eliminated.

Clouseau's investigation involves the usual variety of sight gags -- some inspired, some merely borrowed -- that Peter Sellers and Blake Edwards have been supplying in the Pink Panther series for, believe it or not, nearly 15 years. Some are among their best moments, as when Clouseau, working out on the parallel bars in the gymnasium of an English country home, flips himself the wrong way and falls down a flight of stairs into the drawing room. He is, as always, unflappable: The suspects have been assembled there, and he proceeds to question them.

There is also the business of getting across a moat and into Herbert Lom's gothic castle. Clouseau tries, and fails, at every possible means of attack, including canoes, vaulting poles and catapults. There's an earnest desperation in a lot of Peter Sellers' physical humor here that's appealing: We laugh, but he's not in on the joke. He simply wants very much to get across that moat. And he finally succeeds, in a nice companion piece to the teeth-drilling scenes in "Marathon Man," by disguising himself as the village dentist and recklessly going after Herbert Lom's teeth. They're both giddy with laughing gas at the time, and so Lom doesn't even especially care.

If I'm less than totally enthusiastic about "The Pink Panther Strikes Again," maybe it was because I've been over this ground with Clouseau many times before. This is the fifth Clouseau film, and the fourth starring Sellers (Alan Arkin had the lead in "Inspector Clouseau"). When last year's "The Return of the Pink Panther" was released, Sellers and Blake Edwards said it would be the last of the series. But it went on to become the largest grossing comedy of all time, and so I suppose still another sequel was required.

There has to come a time, though, when inspiration gives way to habit, and I think the "Pink Panther" series is just about at that point. That's not to say this film isn't funny -- it has moments as good as anything Sellers and Edwards have ever done -- but that it's time for them to move on. They worked together once on the funniest movie either one has ever done, "The Party." Now it's time to try something new again.

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Ten Best Films of 2014

The ten best films of 2014, as chosen by the film critics of RogerEbert.com.

10 Underrated Female Performances of 2014

Ten underrated female performances from 2014 worthy of Oscar consideration.

More on That Later: The Truth About “Serial”

Some thoughts on the hit podcast "Serial".

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus