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The Pink Panther(2006)
When a star soccer coach is murdered and his priceless Pink Panther diamond stolen, France is in an uproar. Fortunately, Inspector Jacques Clouseau (Steve Martin) is on the case. He doesn't have a clue, but for Clouseau, that's just a minor detail. With his partner, Gilbert Ponton (Jean Reno), he careens from one misadventure to the next, leaving mayhem in his wake from the boulevards of Paris to the streets of New York. Will he seduce the pop diva, Xania (Beyoncé)? Will he push Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Oscar winner Kevin Kline) over the edge? Will he catch the killer and recover the diamond? With Inspector Clouseau, anything is possible.
For more about The Pink Panther and the The Pink Panther Blu-ray release, see the The Pink Panther Blu-ray Review published by Dustin Somner on June 2, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Jean Reno, Emily Mortimer, Henry Czerny, Kristin Chenoweth
Director: Shawn Levy
» See full cast & crew
The Pink Panther Blu-ray Review
Steve Martin steps into the role of Inspector Clouseau for this Blu-ray release.
Reviewed by Dustin Somner, June 2, 2009
Released in 2006, Pink Panther is a modern day reboot to a long-running film franchise that's seen eleven theatrical releases since 1963. Each film in the series has realized varying degrees of success over the years and it's a wonder anyone in Hollywood chose to greenlight this project after the dismal performance of the two prior films (1983's Curse of the Pink Panther and 1993's Son of the Pink Panther), but somehow the producers managed to round up enough talent to draw audiences in for the further antics of Inspector Clouseau.
It's been years since I've seen the original Pink Panther film (starring Peter Sellers) and my recollection of the many sequels is a bit hazy (I can't even be sure I've seen all of them), so I'm approaching this review from the standpoint of judging it based solely on it's merits as a comedy and not whether it stays true to the feel of it's predecessors. I'm sure a number of present day viewers don't have much knowledge of the Pink Panther aside from his position as mascot for Owen's Corning insulation, so approaching this review from a fresh perspective seems like the appropriate route to go.
When a highly successful soccer coach (Jason Statham) is murdered with a poisonous dart at the conclusion of a widely televised championship game, Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) concocts a plan to appoint the bumbling Inspector Clouseau (Steve Martin) as lead investigator on the case. Dreyfus believes Clouseau's typical antics will hold the media at bay, while he secretly solves the murder in order to further his own career-oriented agenda. In addition to investigating the murder, Clouseau is also instructed to track down the priceless Pink Panther diamond ring, that disappeared off the finger of the slain soccer coach. Joining Clouseau in the investigation is a man named Gilbert Ponton (Jean Reno), who 's main task is to keep an eye on Clouseau and report back to Dreyfus regarding their progress on the case. Will Clouseau's unorthodox methods lead him to the truth behind the murder, or will Dreyfus steal the glory and ruin Clouseau's career for good?
Steve Martin may not be my favorite comedian, but he's definitely earned a spot toward the top of my list. As far as this film goes, I'd say Martin is the primary reason the film works as well as it does. In the hands of a less capable actor, the part of Inspector Clouseau (as written in the film) would likely appear annoying rather than charming. The character is literally a walking timebomb ready to explode and the shenanigans of Steve Martin show he hasn't lost his ability to generate gut-busting laughs from situations that may not otherwise seem funny. My favorite scene in the film is the sequence where Clouseau needs to learn how to speak with an American accent (which is great considering he speaks with an over-the-top French accent through the duration of the film). He's supposed to learn how to say hamburger, but can't seem to nail the nuances of speaking without a certain degree of flamboyance. The entire scene is brilliantly done and I'd wager theres a few portions of that segment (if not the whole thing) where Martin is ad-libbing his own version. In the very next scene, Clouseau actually goes to America (be sure to check out his "American" walk) and orders a hamburger. His disdain for the hamburger soon turns into pure bliss as he takes the first bite. He even attempts to steal Ponton's burger before he's finished his own.
Aside from Martin's portrayal of Clouseau, the the rest of the acting is pretty bland, with a number of cameo's from some top players in Hollywood. Kline is decent as Dreyfus, though he could have been a touch more sinister in his role as Clouseau's superior. Beyonce Knowles is easily the weakest of the bunch, but this was one of her first film roles and she deserves a little slack for her flat performance. Two actors I'm surprised to see in a comedy of this sort are Jason Statham and Clive Owen. Neither one has more than a brief cameo appearance, but they add a degree of legitimacy to the production (mainly for those of us who don't typically choose to watch family comedies).
Judging the film as a whole, I'd consider it a worthwhile way to spend 90 minutes. If you have youngsters in the house(old enough not to be bothered by mild sexual innuendo and two non-graphic murders), they'll likely get a kick out of the physical humor and accent-related banter from Steve Martin. Adults may not enjoy the film as much as their kids, but there's enough comedy throughout the duration of the feature to keep the parents laughing right along with their children. How could anyone not laugh at Steve Martin and Jean Reno posing as back-up dancers for an R&B musical show?
The Pink Panther Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in 1080p utilizing the AVC codec (at an average bitrate of 25Mbps), Pink Panther has pleasing visual qualities for a comedy, but remains average next to other Blu-ray releases of films made within the past three years. As a whole, fine-object detail is reproduced well in the transfer. There's still the occasional scene that appears a tad hazy, but taken as a whole the level of detail is fairly impressive. Distance shots usually create the greatest detail-related problems in a transfer, but even wide shots of the streets and buildings in France show sufficient depth and clarity. Black levels also offered adequate depth, and I didn't notice any instances of edge-enhancement, digital noise, artifacting, or aliasing. The only two items that collectively brought down the video score, were colors and contrast. There's an unnatural level of brightness in several scenes that tends to wash out colors and create some problems in delivering satisfying levels of contrast. It gives the film a drab appearance at times, which is unfortunate given the colorful subject matter. Fortunately, it doesn't dominate the entire film and there are still plenty of lush colors to be found on the disc (the vivid green grass in the soccer match at the beginning of the film is a perfect example).
The Pink Panther Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There's quite the collection of audio tracks included on the disc (scroll to the top of this review to see a list), but I chose the primary Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track in the native language of English for my listening experience. Similar to the video quality, the audio on the disc is impressive for a comedy, but not something you'll pick to show off your surround sound system to friends. Highlights on the track include the soccer game at the beginning of the film, the recording session with Beyonce, and the musical number performed by Beyonce during the ending sequence. In particular, the soccer game offered dynamic spatial separation, allowing the viewer to feel as if they were sitting in the middle of thousands of roaring fans. I'm left with the impression the track is completely capable of handling surround separation, but there simply isn't much material in the film itself to warrant a great deal of back speaker use. Thankfully, the dialogue is appropriately balanced (a must for any comedy film), though it remains firmly grounded in the front soundstage and offers minimal side to side differentiation.
The Pink Panther Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The collection of special features included on the disc is reasonably comprehensive considering this is a catalogue release.
Code Pink: Animated Graphics-in-Picture Track: If you select this option from the special features menu, the animated Pink Panther or Inspector Clouseau will appear at random times throughout the film to present trivia facts about actors in the film, Pink Panther history, or various elements of the film production. The trivia itself is mostly interesting, but the pop-ups seemed a little scarce at times.
Deleted and Extended Scenes (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 24:08 min): Some of the additional scenes would have been decent additions to the film, but I'm happy the filmmakers made the decision not to include them. The pacing of the film (and relatively short runtime) is already appropriate for the thin plotline and may have been compromised if these scenes were added or extended.
Cracking the Case (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 22:05 min): This featurette consists largely of behind-the-scenes footage on the set of Pink Panther and interviews with the filmmakers and lead actors. There's really nothing profound or in-depth to this extra, since everyone spends the majority of the time praising each other for their work in the film, but fans may find more to like than I did.
Animated Trip (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 8:52 min): Focusing on the fabulous animated portion of the credit sequence at the beginning of the film, this featurette contains interviews with Bob Kurtz (animation director) and Eric Goldberg (animator) as they discuss the process of creating the ideas and artwork for the final product.
Deconstructing the Panther (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 10:15 min): The last featurette on the disc is a behind-the-scenes look at the set used in the finale of the film. Although the supplement is brief, it offers an interesting look at the elements that come together to complete a large-scale scene.
Sleuth-Cam (480p, Dolby Digital 2.0, 18:32 min): There are three segments contained within this supplement. Each segment focuses on a different scene from the movie, and consists of behind-the-scenes home video footage of the preparation for each sequence.
Rounding out the on-disc extras, there are music videos for Beyonce's songs "Check on it" and "A Woman Like Me" (both presented in standard definition), and an optional feature-length director's commentary with Shawn Levy.
Although this is a BD-Live enabled disc, I couldn't find any additional extras offered as online content.
The Pink Panther Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Without Steve Martin in the main role, there wouldn't be much to carry this film and it would likely fail to generate enough laughs to make it a worthwhile recommendation. As it stands, his over-the-top portrayal of Clouseau as a clueless, bumbling moron is both charming and amusing at the same time. I never gave the film a fair shake prior to this review (chalk it up to widespread negative reviews upon it's original theatrical release), but I found plenty to enjoy in this viewing and plan to watch it again at some point in the future. If you're in the market for a solid family comedy, look no further and give Pink Panther a shot.
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The Pink Panther Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Pink Panther Specs Revealed - November 14, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has revealed the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of the 2006 remake of 'The Pink Panther', which is due to hit store shelves on January 20th. This Steven Martin film will be presented in 1.85:1 ...
• Sony Bows Pink Panther Remake for Blu-ray - November 10, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring the 2006 remake of 'The Pink Panther' to Blu-ray on January 20th. Steve Martin stars in this film which receives a sequel next year. Video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a ...
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