Son of the Pink Panther is a 1993 comedy and crime drama film and the final installment in the original The Pink Panther franchise, as well as the last film directed by Blake Edwards. Just like the last one, this film once again tried to continue the series with a new bufoonish lead. This time, Roberto Benigni plays Jacques Gambrelli, the equally-inept son of Clouseau.
In Lugash, the young Princess Yasmin is kidnapped by Hans Zarba and his crew, who demand that her father, King Haroak, renounce his throne. The case is assigned to the once-again-Commissioner Dreyfus, who unknowingly runs into Hans and his crew on the road. They’re both accompanied by a rather unexpected visitor; a dopey French gendarme named Jacques Gambrelli, prone to many familiar mannerisms and quirks that make Dreyfus tick. After meeting with Jacques’ mother, Maria (Clouseau’s love interest in A Shot in the Dark), Dreyfus’s suspicions are finally answered;
Jacques is indeed the Illegitimate son of the famed Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau, a fact that neither father or son were allowed to know.
When Jacques is assigned to the kidnapping case, filled with new-found determination, he must fill the shoes of his infamous father’s bumbling legacy as “Detective Jacques Clouseau Jr.” to rescue Yasmin from the clutches of Zarba and his gang.
Not to be confused with Pink Panther and Sons, a spin-off of The Pink Panther cartoons.
This film provides examples of:
- A Cappella: The opening rendition of the Pink Panther theme is sung this way by famed acappella artist Bobby McFerrin.
- Agony of the Feet: The Pink Panther gets his foot crushed by a cutout of Jacques' face just before the credits roll.
- Animated Credits Opening: 'Son' was the first film in the series to put a spin on the opening titles, having them be a animated and live-action blend with the animated Panther and Gambrelli interact in a recording studio to an acapella rendition of the iconic series theme tune.
- Broad Strokes: The film ignores the events of Curse of the Pink Panther, as Maria mentions that Clouseau died 10 years prior to the film's events, but appears to have canonised a few aspects of Alan Arkin's version of Clouseau, specifically his "singing" style.
- Actually, Curse of the Pink Panther may not have been ignored; dialogue only states that Clouseau died, but he was only declared legally dead at the end of Curse due to Clifton being given a photograph of the man who was killed at the start of that movie and being told that's what Clouseau had his appearance changed to. Maria and Dreyfuss only assume he's dead due to Clouseau having been declared legally so. He may very well have still been with Countess Chandra during the events of this film.
- Catchphrase: Jacques' "That felt gewd!"
- The Cameo: The composer handing the conductor's baton to the Pink Panther in the prologue is Henry Mancini playing himself in an extremely rare on-screen appearance.
- Cool Bike: In the beginning of the film, Jacques patrols the countryside on a blue motorbike. He loses it after falling off a pier and into a harbour.
- Darker and Edgier: This film has been noted for being slightly more darker than all the rest, due in part to the villians kidnapping of Yasmin, and the surprisingly-high body-count.
- End of an Age: This would prove to be not only the final Edwards-directed film in the series, but also his last movie period as he retired after this film tanked, only directing a stage adaption of his 1982 film Victor/Victoria afterwards in 1995. This was also the final work of both composer Henry Mancini who died from pancreatic cancer the next year in 1994, and actor Herbert Lom who didn't appear in anymore films until his retirement in 2009 and his passing in 2012, though he was in several episodes of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple in the 2000s.
- Establishing Character Moment: Jacques
- Forgot I Couldn't Swim: Jacques crashes his bicycle into the river and shouts for help as he can't swim. Dreyfus immediately dives in, forgetting his own inability to swim and starts flailing about in the water. Jacques, who appears to be floating, says he can't swim either and Dreyfus asks why he isn't drowning. Jacques points out the water is shallow enough to stand in, at which point Dreyfus stands up and the two share a good laugh.
- Last Episode, New Character: MANY new characters! And the audience is only familiar with around six-and-a-half of them!
- Leitmotif: Jacques is given a theme that very closely echos the original Inspector Clouseau theme, right down to the key.
- Mythology Gag: Claudia Cardinale plays Maria Grambrelli. Claudia Cardinale had previously played Princess Dala in the original 1963 film and was cast as Maria instead of the role being reprised by Elke Sommer due to her not returning. This may have been because Sommer was working on a TV show and a movie while Son was in production, wasn't interested in reprising the role, or just plain wasn't asked to return.
- Pet the Dog: After being driven murderously insane and accidentally killing innocent people numerous times, getting fired from the force and institutionalized at least once, being vaporized by his own Doomsday Device, getting into a car accident, and sustaining dozens of injuries ranging from a rake handle smacking him in the noggin to accidentally shooting himself in the face, Dreyfus finally gets a happy ending where he marries Clouseau's former fling. But, being Dreyfus, he still gets one last surprise.
- Rearrange the Song: The Pink Panther Theme. What else?
- The opening titles variant, as mentioned above, have been given an A Cappella treatment with vocals by Bobby McFerrin.
- The end titles variant returns to the traditional performance of the theme, with the classic swinging brass and tenor saxophone played by Phil Todd. It also includes a soft flute solo likely inspired by the arrangements from Trail.
- Roger Rabbit Effect: The opening titles of the film are animated this way, with the Pink Panther and Gambrelli caricature animated over live-action footage of a recording studio.
- Took a Level in Kindness: Dreyfus is noticeably nicer this film than in the previous entries, not hesitating to dive into a river in an attempt to save Jacques from drowning despite his own inability to swim, immediately apologizing to Maria after an insult towards Clouseau slips out, and, despite Jacques mannerisms, not letting his experiences with his father cloud in his opinion of him.
- What a Drag: Jacques gets his fingers caught in the back doors of Hans' van, which drives away with him in tow. He does manage to free himself, though.