Life is full of important questions. Does Donald Trump really think his hair looks good? Will Tom Cruise ever age? Do people actually watch “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”? But perhaps the most perplexing question is this – what has happened to Johnny Depp? And to go a bit further, what is driving him to pick such wretched projects these days? Over the years Depp has chosen a wide variety of weird and eccentric roles. But since his last “Pirates” movie, several of his choices have been…well…suspect.
Simply put, “Mortdecai” is his worst yet. It’s an appallingly unfunny action comedy fueled by lazy humor, juvenile gags, and its absurdly creepy main character. The film is based on a book series by English novelist Kyril Bonfiglioli. There were several books in the series which makes me think there was some decent material there. But screenwriter Eric Aronson doesn’t capture anything interesting or entertaining.
Mortdecai (Depp) is a shady art dealer and charlatan who, along with his high maintenance wife JoHanna (Gwyneth Paltrow), is financially strapped due to heavy tax debt. Inspector and old college acquaintance Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) comes to Mortdecai to help find a stolen rare Goya painting in exchange for settling his tax debt with the government. Along with his trusted manservant Jock (Paul Bettany), Mortdecai globetrots around the world, encounters a variety of uninteresting people, and faces plenty of dangers. Whatever.I’ve already mentioned how terribly unfunny the film is. You can only handle so much of Depp’s measly voice and bizarre gap-toothed smile. Humor focused on vomit, dry heaving, and body parts gets old quick. It also doesn’t help that the entire stolen painting mystery is sleep-inducing. It’s dull, lifeless, and smothered out by all of the vain attempts at humor. The movie tries to liven things up by injecting a few comedy-laced action sequences, but they are just as uninspired and forgettable.
I feel as though “Mortdecai” revolves around a continuous inside joke that I was never let in on. Surely a comedy can’t be this anemic, lame, and humorless. I sat stone-faced the entire time watching a talented and wasted cast flounder around with some of the worst material of the year. It could be said that this is a new low for Johnny Depp. The guy has talent. We have seen it in the past. But you see none of it in “Mortdecai”. Instead you get Depp at his most annoying and you have to wonder how much more of this nonsense can his career take?
VERDICT – 1 STAR