February 20, 2006 12:00 PM

Steve Martin, Kevin Kline, Emily Mortimer, Beyoncé Knowles, Jean Reno


The French have a word for it: ooh-la-lame. That sums up this bumptious attempt to relaunch The Pink Panther, the series of comedy films (the first was in 1964) starring Peter Sellers as that dim French bulb, Inspector Clouseau. Here, Martin plays Clouseau and turns him into a twitty bumbler. He gets his chance for glory when Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Klein) summons him from the provinces to Paris to investigate the murder of a famous soccer coach. After much stumbling about—the pratfalls are endless—Clouseau finally solves the case.

Panther, as directed by Shawn Levy (Cheaper by the Dozen), wastes a gifted cast. Martin mugs and adopts an exaggerated French accent, as does pretty much everybody else, to little effect. Kids and fans of excessively broad comedy are likely to be the only ones amused. (PG-13)

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