Twitter Plot Summary: Another attempt at resurrecting the Pink Panther franchise, this time with Roberto Benigni as Clouseau’s son.
Son of the Pink Panther marks the final film in the series that began with The Pink Panther in 1963, and the third film to take place in that universe following the death of franchise star Peter Sellers. It goes without saying that it isn’t very good, a couple of amusing moments surrounded by tedium. In fact this whole perspective is most clearly defined by the intro sequence, with the animated Pink Panther interacting with a live action setting and the classic theme tarnished by Bobby McFerrin.
Besides this initial indignation, this is a a world where people get shot by a machine gun and there’s no sign of blood, so you know you’re in for trouble. It’s another tonal mess, the occasional great joke ruined by an increasingly dull story that is more interested in revealing a character’s lineage and paying homage to the best bits of days gone by than branching off and existing as a separate entity in its own right.
Once more the saving grace is Herbert Lom as the now promoted Commissioner Dreyfus. He had expected to be free from Clouseau after his “death” 10 years previously (we know of course that he instead became Roger Moore in Curse of The Pink Panther), however he encounters a police officer with remarkable similarities to Clouseau and soon discovers that the officer is in fact Clouseau’s son. Dreyfus’ misfortune in each film, particularly in the last three entries in the series, are almost your only reason for tuning in. With this in mind, it’s worth pointing out that his near apoplectic rage is best demonstrated in the Sellers movies rather than in these poor imitations of former glories.
At least Roberto Benigni is a large distance better than Ted Wass proved to be in Curse of the Pink Panther, but then Benigni is an incredibly competent acting presence. Even despite this, his character is poorly defined and, other than doing an impression of Peter Sellers, is left with little to do besides some rather fun moments of slapstick. These moments are sadly too few and far between, and we’re left waiting for something more interesting and/or amusing to take place.
Robert Davi is the villain here, and feels like he got lost somewhere between his role in Licence To Kill and The Goonies. He’s also a thankless villain, with very little to do beyond the usual stuff of looking evil. His involvement in a kidnapping plot only serves the purpose of getting Gambelli involved in events, nothing more.
After this travesty it’s a good thing that a spinoff series starring Benigni did not get off the ground. One can only imagine how much worse things could have become if this had performed well. Instead it should be seen as what it is, the final nail in the coffin, a desperate attempt to reclaim success from a franchise that had its last solid entry 15 years previously. If the message hadn’t gotten through before, it’s time to move along people, this ship has sailed.