Picks and Pans Review: Trail of the Pink Panther
While it's dedicated to Peter Sellers, who died in July 1980, this film is an exploitive insult to him and the classic comedy character he created, Inspector Jacques Clouseau. It is composed of out-takes and excerpts from real Clouseau films, stitched together with a lame excuse for a script, written by Panther series director Blake Edwards, his son Geoffrey and Frank and Tom Waldman. (It is a measure of their desperation that they resort to three separate urination jokes.) In the new footage, Joanna Lumley plays a TV reporter who goes on a vain search for Clouseau when his plane is reported lost at sea. Herbert Lom, he of the twitching eye, again plays Clouseau's beleaguered boss. David Niven and Capucine reprise the suave thieves they played in the series' first film, 1963's The Pink Panther. And Burt Kwouk, as the martial artist-manservant Cato, attacks Lumley as well as flashing back to his wonderful battles with Sellers. The only even marginally funny new bits involve Richard (Soap) Mulligan, who does a passable Sellers imitation as Clouseau's father, and the opening credits, in which the Panther gets transmogrified into a Pink Pac Man. The really bad news is that another ripoff, The Curse of the Pink Panther, based on more old clips, is in the works; Edwards, who in a recent magazine interview referred to Sellers as a "monster" who was impossible to work with, seems to be letting greed make a monkey out of one of the movies' most beloved characters. (PG)
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