Mortdecai – Movie Review
Mortdecai – R
Release Date: Fri 23 Jan 2015
Mortdecai is a comedy about a bumbling, somewhat crooked art dealer named Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) who is tasked by the head of MI5 (Ewan McGregor) to hunt down a stolen painting. He soon finds himself caught between several competing parties trying to get to the missing painting first, which leads to jetting between London, Moscow and Los Angeles in an effort to stay alive, find the painting and somehow pay off 8 million pounds in back taxes to the British government.
Despite a stellar cast and beautifully shooting, the movie is an abject failure as a comedy, action movie or even just a simple story. Without the comedy to keep things interesting, the story is simply tiresome as it barely makes sense to begin with. It very obviously is supposed to be a madcap farce, with huge developments happening off-screen or in over-abused use of voice overs in the form of narration from Mortdecai. If we were laughing, the absurd nature of the story wouldn’t matter. Instead, it’s just all the more frustrating as the story becomes transparently whatever the movie needs to set up the next “wacky” scene.
Depp’s performance of the foppish Mortdecai isn’t obnoxious, but it is not funny in and of itself. The script doesn’t support him with funny things to say, and there are only one or two lines that are actually funny. The rest tends toward him describing what is happening to him as it is happening. “I’m on the bonnet!” he cries as his character, during an in-car wrestling match for control ends up on the hood of the car. That is the joke. If the rest of the movie were serious and grounded, his character would at least be funny as a fish out of water or a man who can’t believe what’s happening around him. But all the characters are in on the same level of silliness.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays his wife, who is using her charms on Ewan McGregor’s character to try and solve the mystery on her own. Paul Bettany plays Mortdecai’s manservant, whose usual role in the action is either being hurt in lieu of or directly by Mortdecai (by mistake of course) or by having non-stop sexual escapades wherever they go. Even with an R-rating, all of this happens off-screen. The movie could easily have been edited to a PG-13 and lost nothing but a bit of unimportant language for it. Ewan McGregor has nothing to work with as he is completely helpless around Mrs. Mortdecai. Olivia Munn and Jeff Goldblum are completely wasted in what amount to extended cameos.
Unless you have been crying with laughter at the trailer (which oddly shows many of the funniest lines but uses alternate takes to soften the language), there’s no hope of enjoying Mortdecai. It’s not so bad it’s good – it’s an infuriating, painfully broken movie. Avoid this one at all costs.
Aaron and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car: