The problem with many long-running series is that after a few entries everything seems like old material. In "Trail of the Pink Panther", it literally is.
Director Blake Edwards attempts to make one more Peter Sellers Inspector Clouseau movie, despite the fact that Peter Sellers died before the movie began filming. To accomplish his goal, Edwards weaves deleted scenes from previous Pink Panther films with newly filmed "plot" scenes to try to create a coherent story about Clouseau picking up the trail of the Pink Panther diamond one more time.
Halfway through the movie, Clouseau is conveniently declared missing, and a nosy reporter investigates Clouseau's life. She tracks down characters from the series and gets them to tell their stories about Clouseau, providing a clothesline to hang highlight clips from previous films on.
It's easy for anyone who's seen the other films to tell where the archive footage, even the deleted scenes, come from. All of this adds together to create an uneasy feeling of déjà vu for the viewer.
There are some original scenes in which the reporter interviews Clouseau's father, leading into some interesting (and funny) flashbacks to Clouseau's childhood. Even this, however, fails to take away from the feeling of watching the kind of "clip show" common in long-running TV shows. And when a TV show does a "clip show" episode, it's either a finale or the show's jumped the shark. (Think of the final episode of "Seinfeld." This entire movie is the Pink Panther equivalent.)
While the movie could be a good overview or introduction to the series, it's simply not as enjoyable as watching the individual movies themselves and seeing the jokes in their proper context. Even the new or previously unreleased material pales in comparison to that of the earlier movies. And while a "Best of" disc is something of an enjoyable novelty, it's understandable that this movie flopped. I can't fathom why anyone would pay money to see it in theaters.
Not to say that this movie doesn't have its place. For Pink Panther completists, this movie is like a bonus DVD. But like most DVD bonus features, this movie isn't one that will be watched often. For anyone other than completists, this movie is definitely skippable.