Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is renowned art world lowlife, fencer and moustache grower. Things have not been going well for Mortdecai and his beautiful and intelligent wife, Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the couple find themselves owing eight million pounds to the taxation department… cash they simply don’t have.
While attempting to perfect the moustache Mortdecai sets on out on a bunch of failed schemes to make the money before he is approached by Martland (Ewan McGregor) a MI5 agent who reluctantly needs to ask Mortdecai to help him with a case which sees them try to solve a murder that they believe involves known terrorist Emil (Jonny Pasvolsky) and his search for Nazi ritches. Of course Mortdecai isn’t going anywhere without his over-sexed muscle and man-servant Jock (Paul Bettany) and soon the group are traversing the world trying to solve the mystery at hand.
Now there was once a time that Johnny Depp made films that you could actually be excited about going to see. Films like Edward Scissorhands, Sweeney Todd and From Hell were classics, but in recent years Depp’s career has really fallen away and he seems to be making average film after average film with movies like Tusk, The Lone Ranger and The Rum Diary being savaged by reviewers and taking hits at the box office as well.
It seems no matter how low Depp goes people always have an excuse for him. ‘Oh he likes kooky roles’ or ‘what about Pirates Of The Caribbean?’, well the excuses have now worn really thin because Mortdecai is so bad it exposes what some people have known for quite a while now – Depp is an overrated actor who hasn’t known how to pick a good script for quite a while now.
Mortdecai is bad beyond belief. To be blunt it is yet another excuse for Depp to show that he knows how to play a kooky character, but just like the recent Tusk his acting leaves a lot to be desired. His over-acting gets very, very tiresome pretty quickly while the fact that the supposed comedy rarely provides even a chuckle makes watching his performance even more tedious. The funny thing is while the Depp lovers will be quick to put out that Mortdecai allows their loved one to once again go into the world of his kooky character acting, in stark reality he does very little except make a lot of the same annoying noises that controversial comedian Doodleburger makes when he is doing his Mr. Kelly impersonations.
Perhaps one of the strangest things about Mortdecai is that the man at the helm of the film didn’t realise how badly written the script was. Sure we’ve learnt over the years that Depp doesn’t know how to pick a bad script, but you would think that director David Koepp certainly would. This is a man who has served as a screenwriter on films like Jurassic Park, Mission Impossible and Panic Room, he certainly knows what a good script is like so it is strange that at no point during the filmmaking process would he ever come to the realization that Mortdecai simply doesn’t work as a comedy. The lines are groanworthy and for the most part the story is dull and predictable, there certainly aren’t many points throughout the film where you think a director would have read it the script and thought ‘wow I want to make that.’
The sad thing about Mortdecai is that it is a sinking ship that takes Depp’s friends down with him. Ewan McGregor seems awkwardly out of the place playing the very average MI5 agent, and at times you can swear that the look on his face is one of confusion as the result of the script. Then there is also poor Paul Bettany who slaves away playing the poorly named Jock Strap (ha ha yes we see what you tried to do there), and while he is one of the most enjoyable things about the film, like McGregor you can only wonder why the hell he ever signed on to make this movie at all. Last but not least there’s Gwenyth Paltrow who just seems to swan around, look pretty and pretend to be disgusted by Mortdecai’s mustache. Her role isn’t even as memorable as Oliva Munn’s who is probably the one person that people will remember from this film as she stands out playing nymphomaniac, Georgina.
It is obvious that somewhere out there a producer has loved the Kyril Bonfiglioli novel Don’t Point That Thing At Me for years and has always dreamed of bringing it to the big screen for years. But Mortdecai seems to be a project that was doomed from the start. With a weak, unfunny script from Eric Aronson and a leading man who seems to think that this is his vanity piece, there is simple nothing to like from a film that ends up being a poor screwball comedy that turns to gags about farts and dry-reaching to try and get a laugh. At the end of the day there are just no laughs to have though and this will go down as one of the most unfunny comedies of all time.
Directors: David Koepp
Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwenyth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany
Running Time: 123 minutes
Release Date: 21 November 2014