Well, that’s it– Johnny Depp, as an actor, is officially dead to me. Sure, he had some fun moments as Captain Jack Sparrow, and I’ll always consider 21 Jump Street (the TV series, not the movie) my second home, but you could argue it’s been a good ten years (since Finding Neverland) since he’s done anything worthwhile.
And I mean anything.
And Mortdecai is his worst yet.
And it’s not even close.
Giving us a bizarre, absurd, and wholly unfunny mash-up of Inspector Clouseau and Mr. Magoo (by way of Terri-Thomas, the voice of the animated Sir Hiss in Disney’s 1973 Robin Hood), Depp plays Charlie Mortdecai, an underworld art dealer who’s called on by MI5 to help find a stolen painting. But the real story line is that he has grown a mustache and that it makes his wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) dry heave, which triggers his own gag reflex.
There are some other things happening here, including a subplot about how Mortdecai’s manservant Jock Strapp (ha!), played by Paul Bettany, is quite the ladies man; how an American art dealer’s daughter, played by Olivia Munn, is a nymphomaniac; and how a shellfish buffet causes a bevy of party guests to get sick, but really… it’s all about the mustache. Now there’s comedy, people.
Throughout the entire running time of Mortdecai, I was trying to figure out what the people involved, including Depp, director David Koepp, and screenwriter Eric Aronson, were even trying to do. They may have thought they were making a comedy, but I seriously didn’t even chuckle once, much less laugh. I will cop to cracking a smile at one point (one point), but that’s it. The jokes are all telegraphed, the direction is hideously lazy, and the cast should all be drug-tested immediately.
When the film’s most memorable line is: “That file is fat and well-handled… like a Welsh barmaid”, well– you get the idea. And if you don’t, there’s always the fart and vomit jokes to hammer the point home.