Peter Sellers' shoes prove several sizes too big for Steve Martin in The Pink Panther, a distressingly unfunny attempt to update the bumbling-detective series that began in 1963. Instead of putting the accent on comedy, co-writer and star Martin and director Shawn Levy put all their comedy into an accent - the assumption being that 95 plot-light, joke-starved minutes of someone talking "lark zees" is enough to make a movie. But mon dieu, they couldn't be more wrong: this is less A Shot In The Dark than A Shot In The Foot.
The wisp of a storyline sees the incompetent Inspector Clouseau (Martin) hired to solve the murder of a football coach (Jason Statham) and recover the stolen Pink Panther diamond. Thus ensues endless rounds of sub-Naked Gun slapstick. It's a rare gag that isn't telegraphed days in advance.
Along the way, this flat-footed farce claims the scalps of such talents as Kevin Kline (as the duplicitous Chief Inspector Dreyfus), Jean Reno (sidekick) and Emily Mortimer (secretary). Victim's girlfriend Beyoncé, meanwhile, has but two requirements to fulfil: to look like Beyoncé and sing like Beyoncé.
As for Martin, no matter how many he times he stumbles, fumbles, burns his balls or mispronounces the word hamburger, he never gets close to making the Clouseau persona his own. With even the customary cartoon credit sequence failing to deliver, we're left with but one bitter, ironic laugh: examining an apparently priceless vase, a character gasps: "It is a worthless imitation!" Touché...