Movie Review: Mortdecai

CAST: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Whitehouse

DIRECTOR: David Koepp

WRITER: Eric Aronson, Kyril Bonfigioli

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Florian Hoffmeister


Indulge me for a bit, comedy, I assume, should at least be humorous to make sense. If this is the case, MORTDECAI is a colossal failure, Based on Kyril Bonfiglioli ‘s series of comic novels of about the madcap adventures of art expert Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Depp) and his faithful manservant Jock Strapp (Bettany). When a fabled Goya painting fell in the hands of an international terrorist, Inspector Alistair Martland (McGregor) sought the assistance of his rival, Mortdecai, to retrieve the precious artwork. Meanwhile, Mortdecai’s wife, Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), embarks on her own investigation. Guided by a series of clues and carried on with absolute ineptness, Mortdecai leaves an international trail of buffoonery.

MORTDECAI is an unfunny, unnecessary, unsubstantiated mess filled with politically incorrect, boorish jokes. Lacking sparkle, Depp and Paltrow fell flat as the duo tried so hard to engage in gender role banters. Subjected to some of the more tasteless antics is Munn, a tremendous contrast from her intelligent and independent female role in NEWSROOM. McGregor and Bettany, to a degree, endured and kept their dignities intact. Curiously, Paltrow created more sparks with McGregor than his actual leading man. I guess the irritating fake accent of Depp has serious implications. Like Jean Reno in the THE PINK PANTHER (a kindred spirit of this film), Bettany played it straight and demonstrated his admirable comic timing. Still, a couple of bright spots cannot make up for this cinematic black hole. For instance, to provide a semblance of subplot, the film utilized the delightful combination of mustache and gag reflex. If gagging sounds are not, there is an entire scene of projectile vomiting during car chase. Caution: this film contains a running gag on gag reflex and repetitious regurgitation.

Depp used to be one of the most exciting, uncompromising actors in the business. Now, he is a parody of his former self. Hidden behind layers of make-up, prosthetic, and the obligatory funny hats, the recent choices of the actor seem like a parade of throbbing middle fingers to his earnest fans. His recent projects include the lifeless THE TOURIST, the bloated LONE RANGER, and the forgettable TRANSCENDENCE. If this is a case of burning his entire career and rising from the ashes with an honest-to-goodness performance, I am all for this game plan. From McConaissance, to Keatonnaisance, the old reliables are back doing their best. Depp needs to take a step back, reflect, and make a good film — not a blockbuster — but an acting piece.

Before Ralph Fiennes came on-board for THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, one of the best films last year, Depp was rumored to be attached to the lead role. In some ways, MORTDECAI took a futile stab at echoing the genteel, gentlemanly past THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL so beautifully created. Whilst THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL reveled in the world it established, MORTDECAI mocked it with reckless abandon and the result is a disaster.





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