There are times when a normal review is insufficient or inappropriate for a unique movie, and I think this is one of those times. So, to boil it down to the key focal points, this review will focus on what I consider to be the movie’s two major pros and two major cons.
Pro #1: the team. It’s basically the Pink Panther gang, doing Pink Panther comedy. Blake Edwards is in the director’s chair, and the result is very much a Blake Edwards film, which is (for the most part) a good thing. As one would expect from Edwards, the film is dependent on impressive performances, unique characters, believable character relations, and visual/physical comedy, all of which proved to be dependable this time. The music is provided by Henry Mancini, of course, and even though I’m not as big a fan of this soundtrack as I am to that of The Pink Panther, the music still has that Mancini charm that is unique to his soundtracks. (I think I even heard him work in a little bit of “Meglio Stasera [It Had Better Be Tonight]” in the background of the bathroom scene.) Peter Sellers is predictably the star, and he handles the role of Hrundi V. Bakshi much like the way he performed the character of Clouseau – with perfect timing, charming naivete, and a carefully comedic accent. This performance, however, is rather controversial, as it has Sellers wearing brown makeup to play a man from India, which leads to first main con.
Con #1: the white-washing. To illustrate what makes it hard for me to sort out my feelings about the casting of Peter Sellers in this role, I have made the following chart:
For a better overview of the issue of white-washing in film as a whole, I recommend an editorial by Doug Walker that can be viewed by clicking here. As for this film in particular, however, I am rather stumped. It must be Sellers in this role, or else there’s no point in having the role. Sellers is expected to do a funny accent, and the funny accent he does in this film works well for the character, but unlike with Clouseau, this accent only works if he uses makeup to look the part. I naturally want to defend Edwards and Sellers, which might not be so difficult seeing as how sources indicate that former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is known for citing one of Sellers’ lines in the film that she felt expressed the positive self-identity Indians should have. However, my moral concerns cannot be entirely appeased by this, and this does knock the film’s grade down by a few marks.
Con #2: the plot. Spoiler: there isn’t one. Not in any conventional sense, that is, because the vast majority of the film is just one party that gradually gets crazier and crazier. Pink Panther fans expecting some clever storyline in which Sellers fights a villain who’s going to use the party for villainous means are bound to be rather disappointed to find that there is no such story. There is only gradually building chaos. This means the movie can get a little old after a while. On the other hand …
Pro #2: the story. Considering the lack of plot, it is amazing just how cleverly they handled the concept and story. There is a particular order and form to this film that must have been crafted very, very carefully to make a motion picture that remains as funny as this one does. Yes, as I alluded to above, it can go into “tederesting” territory, but it keeps bouncing back with a joke that was cleverly set up a scene or two earlier. It’s actually rather amazing that Edwards and his team managed to pull of such an oppositional film in a way that’s easy to digest, and a heck of a lot of fun to watch. This is very much its own kind of film, and I for that I cannot help but appreciate it very much.