Here’s the thing about being relentlessly strange, sometimes it’s just not going to work.
“Mortdecai” is Johnny Depp’s latest film in which he plays an eccentric art dealer caught up in a world of hoodlum’s, investigators, priceless art pieces, and his new mustache, as he bumbles his way through trying to save his family’s finances. It’s certainly another odd and peculiar character portrayal by Depp, not that that’s a shock, if fact, I think we’d all be more surprised at this point if Depp just played it straight.
Of course that’s not to say he’s awful in this. He does just fine. Depp is a pro and there were certainly some moments in this that I bought into this strange Mr. Mortdecai, but there were just as many moments when I felt almost an air of desperation in the performance, as if he was trying to save the weak material around him with a twirl of his mustache and just couldn’t pull it off, even with some great support in the wings. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, and Olivia Munn all do good work with what they are given here, and it was absolutely wonderful to see Jeff Goldblum on the screen, who I’m desperately hoping sees some sort of film resurgence here soon. But the question remains, since this is a comedy, is it funny? And I guess my answer is “occasionally?” There are a few distinct moments that the humor almost feels laser accurate with it’s wit, but unfortunately I think the key word is few.
Most of this comes down what feels like a real failure to nail down what kind of movie they were making here. First, the tone feels completely inconsistent. Some of the time this feels like a quirky Wes Anderson piece and then seconds later I’m wondering if Mike Myers is about to pop around the corner as Austin Powers. At some point it needed to be able to settle into a feel for either a quirky art piece or a slap stick broad comedy, and it just felt indecisive and therefore disjointed as it wavered back and forth. I also couldn’t place it in time. There is something very 1980’s about the style and yet cell phones and other modern inventions are present as well. It’s also an interesting choice to make this R rated, especially as close to PG-13 as it feels, except for a few choice moments that could have easily been adapted. The end result is a movie that either subconsciously or even consciously never lets the audience really sink into it and therefore it just feels strange, uncomfortable, weird, and unfunny. Of course, many times these are exactly the kinds of movies that become “cult hits” down the line, so let’s check back in 10 years and see if people are throwing Mortdecai parties, and dressing up with a quaint mustache for Halloween. My guess is not.
Overall, “Mortdecai” is an unfortunate miss for Johnny Depp and his stellar cast. The movies inconsistency and indecision results in a comedy that never quite feels funny enough to justify it’s strangeness and ends up walking away with a piece of art valued around a C-