by George Wolf
It’s high time we stopped clutching our pearls and wondering “what happened to Johnny Depp?” The man likes just likes playing eccentric characters, so Mortdecai fits the bill.
Droll? Quite right.
Funny? Um, no.
Based on the novel “Don’t Point That Thing at Me,” the film finds Depp as Charlie Mortdecai, English art dealer and all-around bumbling scoundrel. He’s part Magoo, part Bean, and once a famous painting goes missing, a heavy dose of Clouseau.
He and and Mrs. M (Gwyneth Paltrow) are living large but deep in debt, when the British secret service offers a possible way out. Someone in America has been secretly deflating footballs right before the big game, and…oh, wait that’s something else.
Mortdecai must track down a priceless masterpiece before it winds up in the wrong hands, and the convoluted plot involves jet-setting, mustache infatuation and multiple instances of “sympathetic gag reflex.” Director David Koepp tries hard to inject some pizzaz, but Eric Aronson’s script feels more like a rough draft than a finished product.
The film’s saving grace (well, besides the casting of Olivia Munn as a nymphomaniac) is, of course, Depp. He’s a perfect example of great timing in search of some comedy, and he delivers a fully realized performance that manages, against some pretty long odds, to give Mortdecai its few moments of charm.