After the success, or rather lack thereof, of "Curse of the Pink Panther", Blake Edwards realized he had to accept that Peter Sellers was no more and that he still needed to bring the name Clouseau back into the franchise, even if it meant giving Sellers' classic character an illegitimate son.
Enter future Oscar winner Roberto Benigni, who would actually receive the exact opposite of an Oscar for this role. He's clean-shaven, part Italian Jacques Gumbrelli Clouseau Jr., not mustached Jacques Clouseau, making this a new character and leaving Benigni to the type of humor that works for him.
Unfortunately, the humor doesn't work for the entire movie. The movie moves almost completely away from the overdone routines of the rest of the series, but there are only a few laugh out loud scenes, with some small chuckles in between. The biggest problem with the film, though, would have to be the plot. Pink Panther plots have been mangled messes before, but never to this extent. There's so much political intrigue and scandal involved that it's hard to figure out what anyone's motivation in, even during the climax.
Herbert Lom is back for his final performance as Chief Inspector Dreyfus, now more sane and subdued. Burt Kwouk is also back reprising his reoccurring role as Kato, the late Clouseau's humble servant. Disguise master Professor Balls, played in the most recent films by Harvey Korman, is now played by Graham Stark, a friend of Sellers who appeared in different roles in many of the films. These performances almost make the movie feel like a valid part of the series.
Henry Mancini's score, as in all of the films, is the highlight, and Bobby McFerrin's performance of the theme music is perfect. Especially when it provides the background for a battle between an animated Benigni and the famous Pink Panther cartoon character, racing around a live action concert hall.
But the bottom line, sadly, is that the plot's a mess and the film isn't as funny as the Peter Sellers classics, or even the previous entry sans-Sellers, "Curse of the Pink Panther."