“Mortdecai” Review

Mortdecai, or as I like to call it, Mustache Jokes: The Movie, is the most recent film starring Johnny Depp with facial hair and an accent. Depp plays Mortdecai, an eccentric art dealer fallen on hard times. Due to the fact that everyone wants to murder him and he’s completely out of money, Mortdecai grows a mustache in a vain attempt to add some sort of meaning to his life. However, the mustache he grows is stupid and his wife doesn’t like it. Mortdecai likes the mustache though, so he keeps it, leading to everyone making fun of him for it. Haha! Get it? Johnny Depp is wearing a fake mustache but the mustache is weird and nobody likes it. Isn’t that hysterical? There is dumb facial hair on the face of Johnny Depp. Classic comedy. Anyway, an expensive painting is stolen so Mortdecai is hired to find it and crazy hijinks ensue.

Mortdecai is directed by David Koepp, which is especially disappointing because I was a big fan of Koepp’s last film, Premium Rush. Premium Rush is a 2012 film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt about a bicyclist who is pursued throughout Manhattan by a dirty cop. Sounds dumb, right? It definitely was, but it took itself so seriously and committed to its world so fully that it ended up being a lot of fun to watch. Mortdecai is not fun to watch, and a large reason of why it’s not is because it keeps winking at the audience and asking for the audience’s approval. This lack of confidence in itself sucks out any of the fun in the film, and makes viewing it a tedious experience.

Johnny Depp’s character is exactly the bland, overdone character that shouldn’t be given more than 5-10 minutes of free time, and none of the other characters are any better. Saying that they’re all one-dimensional would be too kind. The characters are the sort of things that would be created if you gave a bunch of mediocre improvisers some simple character quirks and had them act out 15-second scenes. The movie has some pretty high profile actors (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum), but none of them do anything that makes it seem as if they didn’t memorize their lines 5 minutes prior to pressing record.

Watching this film, I kept thinking about how it appears to just be an amateur version of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Both follow eccentric leading men as they are chased around for the sake of stolen art, and they both include low-brow humor juxtaposed by the class of everyone involved. However, the ways in which The Grand Budapest Hotel is better than Mordecai are innumerable. To sum up a couple of reasons, Mordecai’s humor seems to be derived from a necessity to make jokes, not from actual humorous inspiration. You could have written a better script off of mad libs. The film also appears to be shot as quickly and lazily as possible, so as to just tell the story and not worry about creating a cohesive style… other than bad. There’s just not enough effort put into making this movie good. Johnny Depp’s charisma isn’t enough. 2/10.

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