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THE PINK PANTHER

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Frankly, most of the films in the long-running Pink Panther series weren't very funny (and let's never speak of the ones that didn't even star Peter Sellers). So yet another episode with the bumbling French detective Jacques Clouseau would seem to be a fruitless idea. And it is: Shawn Levy directs Steve Martin as Clouseau, and brings nothing fresh to series, except a joke about the Internet. Martin, who also co-wrote the script, can't break away from being American at heart. His Clouseau is gung-ho, plucky and likable, whereas Seller's definitive characterization emphasized the man's pettiness, obstinacy and vanity. Like the other hapless actors ensnared here -- Kevin Kline, Emily Mortimer -- Martin speaks in a ridiculous Pepe LePew French accent (curiously, French actor Jean Reno speaks normally). There's some nonsense about a murder, a pink diamond and Beyoncé, plus the occasional runaway object, but it's all quite tedious and amateurish. (AH)

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