Son of the Pink Panther

1993 Directed by Blake Edwards. Starring Roberto Benigni, Herbert Lom, Robert Davi, Shabana Azmi, Claudia Cardinale.

REVIEWED By Robert Faires, Fri., Sept. 3, 1993

Never one to let Peter Sellers rest in peace while he could extract another simoleon from the cash cow that is the “Pink Panther” series, writer-director Blake Edwards tries again to find a successor to Sellers -- and scores. (We only hope the first -- poor Ted Wass, who starred in the aptly-titled Curse of the Pink Panther -- has gone to better things.) Benigni isn't the brilliant comic actor Sellers was but this Italian star (also seen in Jim Jarmusch's Down By Law and Night on Earth) is a genuine clown whose ability to flail his limbs as if possessed by a Slinky makes him a rich comic lead. Benigni plays the late Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son, though Edwards has leeched him of Clouseau pére's haughtiness, making him instead a tender bumbler with a poet's soul. Edwards eschews involving this gentle gendarme with the actual Pink Panther, the jewel which inspired the series' best films, for a Sixties-style kidnap caper. It's a tad complicated for the comedy's sake, but with its yacht assault, helicopter getaway, little Third World sheikdom, bloodless shootouts and stuff, it has the feel of an old spy series. You half expect Peter Graves and the Impossible Missions Force to blast in and Lalo Schifrin's TV theme to muscle out Mancini's “Pink Panther” melody. The setting inspires an economy in Edwards' storytelling that recalls his Sixties work: brief scenes in which much is said with a little movement and a few words. Alas, that goes sour in the last half-hour when Edwards succumbs to Eighties Hollywood overkill, concluding with an army attack that's too big, too loud, and inappropriate for Benigni's innocent clown. (This mattered less to the youngsters behind me who tittered throughout.) Worse, Edwards loses sight of what Benigni does best -- full-body physical shtick -- trapping him in long-shot gags that could be anybody, even Ted Wass. Still, within the film are tiny jewels -- an appealing credits sequence with Bobby McFerrin vocalizing Mancini's theme; Benigni impersonating a doctor, each limb slightly out of sync with the rest; Benigni being honored for bravery, trying to control a scabbard with a mind of its own -- which provide precious fragments of the “Pink Panther” past. (Add half a star to the rating if you're under ten years old or a diehard Mission: Impossible fan.)

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Blake Edwards
In Print
A Splurch in the Kisser: The Movies of Blake Edwards
The Edwards gestalt is a sublime combination of the "low art" of physical comedy and the "high art" of intellectual wit

Marjorie Baumgarten, Sept. 25, 2009

More Blake Edwards Films
The Pink Panther
The first in the original Pink Panther series follows the clueless Inspector Clouseau (the always genius Sellers) to Switzerland in search of a jewel thief ...

Marjorie Baumgarten, May 23, 2001

Edwards' crowning achievement is a wickedly funny, impeccably cast, ingeniously subversive satire of the Hollywood film industry.

Marjorie Baumgarten, Aug. 12, 1999

More by Robert Faires
Last Bow of an Accidental Critic
Last Bow of an Accidental Critic
Lessons and surprises from a career that shouldn’t have been

Sept. 24, 2021

"Daniel Johnston: I Live My Broken Dreams" Tells the Story of an Artist
The first-ever museum exhibition of Daniel Johnston's work digs deep into the man, the myths

Sept. 17, 2021


Son of the Pink Panther, Blake Edwards, Roberto Benigni, Herbert Lom, Robert Davi, Shabana Azmi, Claudia Cardinale

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle