<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David Koepp. Starring Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum
What could have been a wonderfully quaint and hilarious Brit-style comedy caper turns out to be overacted and underwhelming in plot and dialogue.
Ah poor Johnny Depp. Once a force that would draw the crowds in but now someone whose way too inconsistent and out of depth with directors who aren’t named Tim Burton.
The movie is based on comic novels written by Kyril Bonfiglioli, favourites of Depp’s who is also a producer on this film and the lead titular character Charlie Mortdecai. Putting on a heavy Brit accent from the days of Jeeves and Wooster, Depp sounds positively incoherent at times as the eccentric aristocrat who is broke due to his dabbling in selling not-so-above-board art. His wife Johanna played by Gwyneth Paltrow is equally hoity-toity and refuses to sleep with him until he fixes their financial conundrum and shaves off his newly nurtured moustache.
Opportunity to remedy his bank balance comes when a murder of an art restorer and theft of a painting lead MI5s Alistair Maitland (Ewan McGregor) to his old friend’s doorstep to retrieve the missing artefact that may also contain a clue to further treasures. Mortdecai’s hatred for Maitland isn’t just about superiority but also due to the fact that the inspector fancies his wife Johanna who seems to be upto something too! Oh and like Jeeves and Wooster, the master has a manservant called Jock Strapp (Paul Bettany) who is also his bodyguard when he’s not bedding pretty young things on his outings with his boss.
In a way, this does seem like a modern-day Jeeves and Wooster and would have been a treat to watch. But alas, there is so much overacting and so little good dialogue that you chuckle through it because of the Brit accent but you know you’re watching B-grade stuff.
Little things that could have become buzzwords for an audience get lost like when Mortdecai asks Jock: “Will everything be alright in the end?” I think it’s Depp’s lousy portrayal of the character that has done a disservice to this film actually; and the writing. Just making these actors say ‘English things’ in thick Brit accents like ‘Old bean’ and ‘quite right’ doesn’t make it funny.
By the end you just want it all to be all right but it isn’t. Mortdecai is a forgettable little film that will probably not have any sequels.
PS: Read this HuffPost article ‘Mortdecai Might Be 2015s Worst Movie So Far’.