Skip to main content

Movie Review | Mortdecai (2015)



Crazy, kooky and ferociously goofy, Johnny Depp’s latest is a send-up to the 70’s caper movies and the genre that parodied them. Striking a similar if distant cord to “The Pink Panther”, “Mortdecai” features a bungling lead character whose charm lies in being larger than life. The situations are over the top, the characters zany to the hilt and the laughs more frequent than anticipated.

A titled art dealer living beyond his means, Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Depp) is recruited to track down a stolen painting for MI5. His money troubles at the forefront of his travails, he simultaneously juggles his disgruntled wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) and the Inspector in charge of the investigation who was Mortdecai’s college schoolmate and a romantic rival for Johanna’s affections.
The storyline feels a bit dated and for viewers who haven’t watched a steady diet of the aforementioned movies, the jokes can be too insular to achieve their desired effect. There are some running gags that flame out quickly (i.e. the mustache) and it misses several beats while attempting to stay swift in the pacing department. The key component it lacks is a foil for Mortdecai. As central as Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau was to “The Pink Panther” series, Herbert Lom’s Chief Inspector Dreyfus was an equally integral and unsung part in making them the lightning in the bottle film experience they were. “Mortdecai” would’ve greatly benefited from featuring a similar dynamic. Without an adversary for Mortdecai to perpetually go up against, there’s no friction to propel the movie forward.

The crucial element in the movie's arsenal is Depp, whose vivid expressions and swing for the fences vivacity are palatably infectious. He plays the movie for laughs with an abandon that is so assured, it possesses an undeniable finesse. It’s a preposterously silly character that requires Depp’s signature gift for bringing eccentric, off the wall characterizations to life. Far from the greatest script of his career, he makes the most of it nonetheless. Paul Bettany provides a lot of the film's laughs as Mortdecai's manservant and yes man, Jock; adding a satisfying crackle opposite Depp.
For those who enjoyed the trailer, liking the movie will be an easy leap as it never ventures off the advertised course. As a genre movie it’s not bold enough to be categorized as a full blown spoof. The strange way in which it strives for satire makes it hard to discern whether it’s actually trying to be one at times. Given so many of the characters and set design are retro based, it is all the more odd they chose to set in the present day. It exists in this strange dimension that mingles the past with the present, the same way the 2005 remake of “Bewitched” did. It struggles to find a distinctive direction and in its query to do so gets lost in route to being something more comically productive.

There’s no mistaking that “Mortdecai” is meant to be absurd. It doesn’t take itself seriously, allowing viewers to take an hour off from heavy thinking. It's mainly an opportunity to watch Depp do his thing and for those who delight at his louder creations, this won't be lost on them. Rating: 6/10



Popular posts from this blog

THE True Bromance Film Podcast - John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

Episode 216 - John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum No one takes out the trash like Mr. Wick. Our trusty and reliable hosts enlist the assistance of Keanu Reeves' alter ego, John Wick, to help us usher in a new era of dependability. Dave and Jairo discuss John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum and revel in the glory of their hideous Game of Thrones predictions from the previous episode. Check out the latest episode on followingfilms.com. MOVIES DISCUSSED THIS WEEK: Book Smart, Brightburn, Aladdin, Shazam!, Bumblebee, If Beale Street Could Talk, John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum

THE True Bromance Film Podcast - Inglourious Basterds

Episode 219 - Inglourious Basterds This week we are celebrating 10 years of Brad Pitt and his band of merry men wreaking havoc in Nazi Germany in Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece, Inglourious Basterds.

WHAT THE FEST!? Interview with Larry Fessenden on DEPRAVED

On this episode of the podcast, I had the chance to chat with genre legend Larry Fessenden. He was kind enough to carve out 20 minutes of his day to chat with me about his latest film  DEPRAVED , the opening night selection for this year's WHAT THE FEST!?  Shot on the 200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley’s FRANKENSTEIN,  writer-director Larry Fessenden’s brings his unique vision of the literary classic in DEPRAVED , set in modern Brooklyn. This meditative reimagining of the novel explores the crisis of masculinity and ideas about loneliness, memory and the subtle psychological shocks that shape us as individuals. To hear my conversation with Larry click play on the embedded player below: