The Pink Panther

Rated 3.0

Steve Martin tries on the role originated by Peter Sellers for director Blake Edwards in 1963, with predictable results: sometimes funny and sometimes dumb. Martin’s Inspector Clouseau is a bumbling, dauntless naïf of a detective; whether he actually solves the crime at hand is less important than how amusing it is to watch him try. Director Shawn Levy doesn’t help much with stiff exposition and perfunctory gags, and Len Blum’s script, co-written by Martin, would sooner give up on itself than assert any discipline. The filmmakers can’t quite decide what makes their Clouseau tick. Luckily for them, the part is well-served by a winning combination of innocence and bravura that was Martin’s signature as a young comedian and still allows fresh surprises; it’s to his credit that the prospect of inevitable sequels isn’t entirely repulsive. For now, though it’s a mixed blessing, this seems like the movie Martin deserves.