Mortdecai (2015) Movie Review


Director: David Koepp

Screenplay: Eric Aronson

Cinematography: Florian Hoffmeister

Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Ewan McGregor

Distributor: Lionsgate

Johnny Depp is having a rough time lately. First the lame Pirates 4, followed by two massive bombs in The Lone Ranger and Transcendence, and now we have this smarmy catastrophe to add to the famous actor’s growing line of s*** films that he has made recently. News that Mortdecai is failing hard at the box office is no surprise to me, because I knew from the first trailer that this wasn’t going to work. A whimsical action comedy done in the vein of classic crime capers a la The Pink Panther? If the embarrassment of the 2006 Steve Martin remake was no clue to audience’s feelings toward movies with that kind of humour, shouldn’t director David Koepp, and perhaps moreso, star Johnny Depp, known better than to agree to direct and appear in this nonsense? The formula can work on occasion, for example the Steve Carell spy comedy Get Smart released back in 2008 which enjoyed decent success, but I honestly have no clue what the majority of the people involved in this film were thinking. I get the vibe they wanted to put out, but this movie feels like it arrived late to the party that started 8 years ago, when projects centered around parodies, tributes, or remakes of old slapstick British-themed comedies of yesteryear were popular. Now, this whole concept just comes across as contrived, with absolutely ZERO of all of the jokes landing, even when some raunchiness is thrown in to try and spice things up. Clearly riding on the shoulders of Depp’s star power, this blatant misfire is a horrible start to the year, and makes me very concerned for the future of its lead actor, which isn’t looking too good at the moment.

The basic story of Mortdecai revolves around Lord Charlie Mortdecai, an eccentric art dealer living in London whose most notable achievement thus far has been to grow an exceptionally well-maintained mustache that his wife Johanna despises. Mortdecai is tasked by an inspector named Alistair Martland to recover a stolen painting that is rumored to have hidden codes on the back leading to lost Nazi gold stashes. Accompanied by his badass bodyguard/friend Jock, he sets off around the globe in search of the thief and the location of the painting itself, running into mischievous characters who may or may not be in liege with the elusive snatcher himself. Johanna also does some detective work on her own, she talks to some old guys, yawn. Most of the events in the movie elicit a big collective yawn, in fact, with small dashes of ‘action’ tossed in here and there but they are so short-lived and terribly executed that none of it makes a difference. Paul Bettany’s character, Jock, is by far the best person in the movie, and I’m serious when I say this would have been more entertaining if it was just a straight-up Paul Bettany action flick. He and Ewan McGregor walk away unscathed from this mess, but Depp unfortunately takes this one hard, once again doing the usual schtick we have come to expect from him. The best way to describe Depp’s Lord Mortdecai is to imagine Jack Sparrow with groomed hair instead of shaggy black locks, a pompous mustache instead of a rugged goatee, and doing his best impression of Austin Powers while under the influence of bad cocaine. It brought back memories from his cameo appearance in Kevin Smith’s Tusk, and in some ways the performances are similar, in that they are both annoying as hell (see my review for Tusk for more on that). Paltrow, insufferable as always, plays his bitchy wife Johanna, and Koepp takes up way too much screen time for her character, effectively throwing extra salt on the wound.

The opening of Mortdecai, set in a swanky club, is a total rip-off of the opening from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and there is this painful recurring joke of Johanna gagging after she kisses her husband because of his facial hair that wasn’t funny in the slightest. There are maybe one or two moments that could bring out a chuckle in some viewers, but I sat in stone cold silence for my viewing. So much is wrong with the film, I could go on and on about how much I hated this crap but I don’t feel like wasting another minute writing about it. What I will say though is that even if Mortdecai was released 60 years ago when movies like this drew plenty of laughs out of the audiences of the time, it still would not work due to the instances of raunch. There are scenes of gratuitous boob-grabbing for no reason at all (Olivia Munn, while good-looking, has no talent in the acting field in my opinion), a man tries to electrocute Mortdecai’s balls numerous times, and there is an unnecessary, awkward sex scene thrown in to emphasize something that doesn’t even…why am I still talking about this? Bottom line: Johnny Depp faceplants again, the movie is the opposite of funny, even with talented people in front of and behind the camera, Mortdecai is a cartoonish trainwreck all around.

Grade: D-

Rated R for some language and sexual material.

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