In theory, comedies are supposed to have viewers laughing until they cry, giggling like a schoolgirl and smiling from cheek to cheek. Unfortunately, as David Koepp’s “Mortdecai” has demonstrated, this isn’t always the case.
Based on the series of cult novels by Kyril Bonfiglioli, the film revolves around debonair art dealer Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp), who travels all around the world with his trusty companion Jock Strapp (Paul Bettany), in search of a stolen painting that is said to contain the code to a lost bank account filled with stolen Nazi gold. However, things aren’t as simple as they appear, as he faces opposition from angry Russians, MI5 and an international terrorist.
The humour in Mortdecai predominantly relies on Johnny Depp’s overly-eccentric, overly-British character, who finds himself in one sticky situation after another. It’s a role the actor has played countless times before (most famously Jack Sparrow in “Pirates of the Caribbean”), although it seems the persona is starting to wear off on the public.
Depp’s main downfall is that he is incredibly mild as Lord Mortdecai. His character doesn’t have the edginess or raunchiness needed to bring the role to life and lacks the charm the role needed. However, Johnny Depp shouldn’t take all of the blame as the fundamental problem with Mortdecai lies within the film’s script.
The gags (a term that should be used loosely) are largely centred upon Lord Mortdecai’s constant infatuation with his moustache and the scriptwriter’s peculiar obsession with genitals. Combined with the quaint slapstick and poor delivery, Mortdecai is an out-dated comedy in which actual laughs are somewhat of a rarity.
To make matters worse, the film fails to utilise its talented supporting cast, as Gwyneth Paltrow, Olivia Munn and Ewan McGregor are all given a backseat, rarely given their time to shine in the spotlight. Even the action scenes are disappointing, largely because of their poor cinematography and execution.