PG, but these movies are pushing the line further and further into inappropriate territory. In terms of questioning the PG rating, the sexual content of these movies is becoming a bit of an issue, bordering on sex romp. While there isn't any outright nudity, there's a lot of near nudity and often in a sexual context. Also, there's a lot of silly death. But the most problematic and dated references are the transphobic and xenophobic jokes that don't really hold up. It's 1976 and stereotypes are the bread and butter of comedy during this era. That doesn't mean that they hold up.
DIRECTOR: Blake Edwards
Okay, something is wrong with me. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I was always told that these movies got worse over time, but I found myself laughing more at The Pink Panther Strikes Back more than the previous two entries in the franchise. Sure, the movies are definitely getting dumber. I can't deny that the comparison to The Naked Gun movies is now undeniable. But The Pink Panther Strikes Again, despite having nothing to do with The Pink Panther, this is the movie that strikes a nice balance between silly comedy and...well. Maybe there is no balance. Maybe it's just good silly comedy.
It's so bizarre that The Pink Panther movies and the James Bond movies decided to take the same path. I have been toying with this idea in my previous blog entries, but I can't help but seeing what happens with these movies. In Dr. No, James Bond is compared to "a simple detective." While there is this global scope to Dr. No, it really does come down to a mystery. Sure, James Bond is the centerpiece of the film, but he really could be replaced with any suave character. But as the franchise carried on, James Bond built the archetype of the super spy. The same is true about Inspector Clouseau. Clouseau is the physical butt of the first movie, His only actual personality is tripping over himself. It was a movie that the world was kind of absurd, but Clouseau was the most absurd in this world. People didn't really give Inspector Clouseau's antics any notice because he's simply another character in a bizarre world.
However, as time passes in these sequels, the world somehow gets more bizarre, but notices Clouseau's silliness all that more. It's really weird and it shouldn't work. But like Bond, Clouseau becomes far more than a small time detective. With Bond, he was always part of a global organization. It oddly made sense when the sense of scale increased to accommodate the narrative that needed to be told. But Clouseau, there's this absurd notion that this police detective turned police commissioner would be investigating these international incidents. This is the movie where the world meets Inspector Clouseau. I don't know what it is about escalation that bothers me so much, considering that this is the one that got me laughing the most, but it just seems like the problems that many sequels deal with. But with The Pink Panther movies, it kind of makes sense. A character like Clouseau only works so well on the small scale. It kind of comes down to the nature of physical comedy.
This is going to seem extremely childish to break down, but I'm going to preach why the pratfalls of the sequels make more sense than they do in the smaller movies. It will all seem like a "Well, duh" moment, but there's something going on that kind of just rests in the back of the brain. With the first two films, Clouseau is this guy who trips over his own two feet and smashes his violin. It kind of has this Mr.Bean-aw-shucks attitude to the action. But there's only so much that Peter Sellers can do with that. His pants can only rip so many times. He can only fall into a fountain so many times. There has to be consequences to his buffoonery. When you put a character like this on the global stage and up the stakes of the film --as stupid as it is --other people feel the repercussions of those actions. A Shot in the Dark ups the game from The Pink Panther. In doing so, they create a villain who loathes Clouseau. But looking at the climax of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Clouseau's clumsiness ultimately saves the world. He's almost murdered dozens of times in this movie, but because he's a buffoon, he survives. Because he launches himself at a building using a catapult by accident, he's able to adjust the angle of the laser, saving London in the process.
And then there's the sex. Bond was always written by Fleming as a Lothario. It was the problematic literature of the '60s, up there with Fifty Shades of Grey today. But that first Bond adventure, it felt like the studio didn't know what they could do with the sex. Similarly, The Pink Panther implies that this absurd character has a charisma to him that is irresistible to women. That first film, he tries to seduce his wife and fails. In this one, women are throwing themselves at him. It's this parallel that I can't ignore. What start as already pretty bizarre worlds become so over-the-top and divorced from reality in the hopes of being the biggest entry yet. But that kind of works with this one. Don't get me wrong. The bottom is going to fall out. There's a reason that we don't consider The Pink Panther as a Clouseau franchise and simply as a mascot for insulation. But for now, the jokes kind of work. It's silly. I don't love the transphobia, but I also acknowledge that there's an expectation for the '70s that might be considered unreasonable. There might even be some respect for the fact that we're supposed to laugh at a proper man in drag, Clouseau himself never looks down on Jarvis for doing what he does.
It's not an amazing movie, but it does the job.
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.