So I watched Mortdecai…
I remember the weekend this film came out I couldn’t watch it and made plans to see it the next week or weekend even. Unfortunately , I never got a chance to see it because it was removed from every single cinema in town before the middle of the next week. I Googled its box office numbers and it seemed to be a movie that the world just wasn’t interested in seeing. I have to thank the local cinema chain that pulled it from theatres with such haste because they saved me from what would have been an overpriced and dull visit to the movies.
Okay, basic plot: Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is a black market art dealer who’s busy fighting off bankruptcy due to unpaid taxes. When MI5 agent, Inspector Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) approaches Mortdecai to help MI5 with the retrieval of a stolen painting, he sees this as an opportunity to raise the funds needed to save him from financial ruin. With his faithful manservant – Jock (Paul Bettany) – at his side, Mortdecai begins an investigation into the stolen painting’s whereabouts which leads him on a rollercoaster ride around the globe. With Mortdecai preoccupied with finding the painting, Martland – who has never gotten over the fact that Mortdecai stole his college girlfriend – Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) – who is now Mortdecai’s wife – sets out to get close to Johanna once again and hopefully break up their marriage.
It’s almost a scientific anomaly how horrible this movie is. On paper, it should have been a high-class comedy – strong cast, competent director and an ample budget to boot. However, it’s a trainwreck. Now I know what you’re thinking, the script must have been to blame; and you know what, you’re right but the tragedy that is this film is caused by everyone involved in it. Let’s start with Johnny Depp. Depp is a brilliant character actor and his flamboyant, committed performance style is a delight to watch…usually. The thing I’ve always enjoyed about Depp is that even though his characters are always off the reservation, they always feel like real people. Mortdecai, however, is a cartoon character; and, who knows, if Pixar had made this movie, I might have loved it. Depp completely misses the mark here and creates a character lacking real soul and – saddest of all – charm. I wasn’t rooting for Mortdecai nor did his survival matter to me.
Depp’s English accent in this film was tantamount to a hate crime…on my ears. It’s so unbelievably phony and jarring that there comes a point where you hope Mortdecai gets killed. Depp isn’t alone though in his vomit-inducing choice of accent, Gwyneth Paltrow joins in with – what I can only assume – is a bid to have The Academy repossess her Oscar. Paul Bettany – who is in fact English and therefore didn’t need to put on an accent (thankfully) still manages to declare war on your ears by speaking as if his vocal cords are made of sandpaper. He was trying to go for a tough guy speech pattern but just ended up sounding like a man in need of a bucket of cough syrup.
The acting in this film is also off. Mortdecai is meant to be this camp, silly, off-centre comedy about a bumbling idiot but instead comes off as a poorly-made spoof of itself. The actors’ performances never slip into the groove this movie’s tone needs. This is a lighthearted movie and its purpose is to be fun but its actors seem to be confused with the difference between cutting back and having fun, and just completely phoning in your performance. Director, David Koepp, also doesn’t do a good enough job (or any job at all) creating a cohesive product. It’s clear the potential Mortdecai had to be this offhand, eccentric comedy but the film never quite seems to find its stride. It also lacks a consistent tempo and the plot flies about randomly without any real purpose.
Overall, Mortdecai is a mess. I can’t say I remember laughing at any point during this movie. It’s boring, dull and devoid of entertainment. I think this movie was a cool idea but it’s cast, director and writer suck whatever joy was in that idea dry and leave you to suffer through with the emaciated remains of the corpse. Don’t watch this movie 3/10