What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is not a Peter Sellers vehicle, but rather an attempt to continue the Clouseau comedies with a different actor, Alan Arkin. Many of the classic Clouseau mannerisms, disguises, pratfalls, and jokes associated with later films in the series are absent or toned down here. There are some deaths (bloodless and humorously rendered) via gunshots. Both good guys and bad guys smoke, and there is some drinking and inebriation.
What's the story?
After creating a hit character out of a bungling yet heroic French police supersleuth in the comedies The Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark, actor Peter Sellers (oft-ill in health, temperament, and scheduling) was left out of INSPECTOR CLOUSEAU, a third escapade focused on the classic slapstick crimefighter. American actor Alan Arkin takes the role instead, as Clouseau is summoned from Paris to London in the aftermath of the (real-life) "Great Train Robbery." UK law enforcement believes an even more audacious heist is being planned, and indeed from the start a shadowy mob tries to set up Clouseau for an epic-scale bank robbery. But Clouseau prevails largely by accident; at key moments he keeps unwittingly activating a spectrum of high-tech cloak-and-dagger gadgets provided to him by the British.
Is it any good?
There are some slow spots, but also some worthwhile ones. Gags see-saw between the character/dialogue-based jokes (like those boudoir-farce moments in the original movie) and the broader, falling-down slapstick of the later Sellers films. If Arkin doesn't make the Clouseau role his own, he doesn't fumble it either, and he even pulls off a scene in which the discouraged detective ruefully faces the fact that he's a walking disaster area. Still, one wonders if Sellers might have provided that extra ingredient to make up for deficiencies in the script, which has a huge logic gap even kids might spot: Why are the bad guys initially trying to assassinate Clouseau when their whole scheme revolves around making him take the fall for their crime?
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the character of Inspector Clouseau and his appeal. Why didn't 1960s audiences accept Alan Arkin in the role, while 21st-century audiences made a hit out of a Steve Martin version? Ask kids what their favorite Clouseau/Pink Panther movie is and why.