Making the Grades
Some things never die, even when they really should be put out of their misery. Such is the plight of Blake Edward's Pink Panther series. Since the death of Peter Sellers, this is the second attempt to make a movie based on his character. It really is difficult to fill this role with anyone else, as the character was more Sellers' own personality rather than the other way around. Obviously, Edwards doesn't see that relationship, and continues to try and substitute for the loss of Sellers, in this case using Italian comedian Roberto Benigni to play Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli, the illegitimate son of the late Inspector Clouseau.
The plot is simple. A rich princess is kidnapped, and someone must go and rescue her. Of course, Gambrelli is the man, and he is dubbed Inspector Jacques Clouseau, Jr. Relying on a wealth of slapstick sight gags and sexual innuendo, Benigni does a miserable job trying to play a character that is an exact replica of Clouseau.
Fitting this film into the PG category must have required a shoe horn. Some scenes are very carefully posed so that discreet body parts are not seen, as nudity of a sexual context would send the film two rating classes higher into the R category. The language is clean, although sexual terms are present. Part of the film takes place in an unknown Arabian country, and there are many suggestions that women are only slaves. One dancer in a bar confesses that if she doesn't continue to dance, the owner will chop off a part of her anatomy.
The good news? The opening credits are a blast! A highly original scene has the cartoon panther making a mess of the recording studio, while Bobby McFerrin does an incredible rendition of Mancini's classic theme. After that, it's all downhill.