January 25, 2015
Lord Charles Mortdecai is an oddball, art-loving British aristocrat who has taken fancy to sporting a quirky small handlebar mustache, like generations of Mortdecai men before him, much to the displeasure of his sexy wife Johanna. Because he has fallen into tough financial times because of tax problems, he is desperate for a scheme to earn the needed dough.
One day, an Oxford art restorer working on a rare Goya painting was murdered. Inspector Alastair Martland sought the help of Mortdecai in locating and recovering the lost painting. From there, Mortdecai gets drawn into a madcap adventure which involved ruthless international art aficionados and their goons who were interested not only in the painting, but also the secret code written behind it that supposedly led to a great Nazi treasure.
Star Johnny Depp is coming from three straight films that did not do well in the box office --"Dark Shadows" (2012), "Lone Ranger" (2013) and "Transcendence" (2014). I am afraid this film will not really break this streak of bad luck. He really looked like he was trying too hard and hammy to make this weird character likable. Some jokes may float because of Depp's inherent charm; but sorry to say, a lot of it turned out rather embarrassing to watch.
The only supporting actor who was given a really notable role was Depp's frequent co-star Paul Bettany as Mortdecai's impossibly loyal manservant/driver/bodyguard Jock. He and Depp make a great odd team together. Too bad the jokes about him also get old as they get told over and over too many times.
Gwyneth Paltrow plays Charles' opinionated and independent wife Johanna. Ewan McGregor plays the Inspector Martland, Charles' old friend in college who was and is still infatuated with Johanna. The lovely Olivia Munn had the unfortunate role of being the nymphomaniac daughter of a Los Angeles art collector played by Jeff Goldblum. These stars play basically one-note characters not given too much to do.
On paper, the story may have sounded like it could have been a lot of fun. However, as it was executed onscreen by director David Koepp, the final product did not always hit the right notes. The jokes (many of them off-color and vulgar) were falling flat and coming across as forced at several points (many were repeated to the point of annoyance). On the other hand, I did like the cartoonish way they showed Mordecai's travelling from city to city, old-fashioned as it may seem.
Mortdecai was based on a book trilogy written by English author Kyril Bonfiglioli in the 1970s. This film was adapted from the first book "Don't Point That Gun at Me" published in 1973. Because of the poor result of this first film installment, chances are the other two books will not see cinematic life anymore. 4/10.