Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwenyth Paltrow
Directed by: David Koepp
Written by: Eric Aronson
Mortdecai began with flaming martinis, and went downhill from there.
Johnny Depp plays Charlie Mortdecai, a moustachioed little shit who happens to be an art dealer with connections. Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife, Johanna Mortdecai, is, well, a very bland Gwyneth Paltrow. When a prominent art restorer is found dead, Mortdecai and his wife find themselves searching for a lost Goya painting. The discovery that the restorer had the priceless work of art is confusing, but after a long-winded explanation, the main characters launch into a global search. They’re pitted against wealthy art dealers who want the piece for private collections, while Mortdecai and his wife are just trying to finance their crumbling estate. It’s hard to find sympathy for the indebted pair, and their strife seems trivial.
As a married couple, Depp and Paltrow are painfully unnatural, and not in a way that’s at all comedic. Despite the forgiving parameters of the kooky comedy genre, the leads fail to convincingly portray anything but an awkwardly forced performance. Depp’s performance is exhausting and completely half-assed, desperately trying to breathe life into a prissy British version of Jack Sparrow. Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum are refreshing in silly roles and are easily the only tolerable characters of the movie.
The film is a poorly thought-out hodgepodge of slapstick comedy, unoriginal genital jokes and gagging noises (literally). Even though the entire film was purposefully over-the-top and ridiculous, the terrible British accents and plot holes are painful to watch and lead to disappointment. It was as if the script was written for a drama, a 16-year-old penciled in jokes he’d seen floating around on Reddit into the margins, and the writers just ran with it. On second thought, that sounds more interesting to watch than this film.
Mortdecai is terribly paced, between high-action moments and long, tedious lulls. The honourable endeavour to create a modern-day Pink Panther-like comedy is analogous to watching David Koepp sob into a dusty screen play “This is still funny right?” for two hours straight. The art heist comedy dragged on a very tired moustache gag that may have been funny in 2008. Mortdecai couldn’t even get the simple task of the well-timed fart joke. In fact, all jokes had some potential but completely floundered with sadly pathetic punchlines.
The jokes in Mortdecai were fitting for a children’s movie, spewing goofy knock-knock jokes and explosive physical comedy. However, the film was obviously geared toward adults with bland sexual humour and a boring stab at art caper themes. This strange choice of combining children’s humour and adult subject matter may have looked interesting on paper, but was ridiculously uncomfortable and lacked the wit necassary for the film to succeed. The casts’ agents responsible for their participation in the film should be ashamed.