Steve Martin is the third actor to essay the role of bumbling, lovable French Inspector Clouseau [after Peter Sellers and Alan Arkin), and he's more successful at it than you might imagine. Frankly, this version of The Pink Panther is more entertaining than the original made in the sixties which first introduced the character of Clouseau. Chief Inspector Dreyfus (Kevin Kline) wants to take credit for finding whoever killed an athlete and stole his Pink Panther diamond [the movie never explains why the diamond has that name as the original film does] in front of hundreds of witnesses. However, as he's unable to handle the matter personally for awhile, he decides to give the assignment to a nitwit, Clouseau, who will get nowhere until Dreyfus steps in and wraps things up to unanimous acclaim. Unfortunately for Dreyfus things don't quite work out that way. The film doesn't begin well, with elderly people being horribly injured for laughs, but it improves as it goes along. Jean Reno is fine as Clouseau's new partner, Ponton, who knows he is just a dupe, and Emily Mortimer has a nice turn as Nicole, who assists Clouseau and falls for him. As the ex of the murdered man, Beyonce Knowles is pretty, but she's not really an actress and adds nothing to the film. Roger Rees is splendid as a wealthy playboy that Clouseau interviews in one of the funnier scenes. To be brutally honest, Martin and Kline are not as memorable in their roles as Sellers and Herbert Lom, but they are still quite good in spite of that, and the picture is good, dumb fun.
Verdict: You'll miss Sellers but might still be amused. ***.