The Johnny Depp Archive

Mortdecai (2015)

Starring: Johnny Depp, Paul Bettany, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Whitehouse, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Munn

Directed by: David Koepp

Rating: 1 2

Johnny Depp as MortdecaiWhatever happened to my heroes? Tim Burton's recent films have almost all disappointed, and as for Johnny Depp, well, trips to see his latest outings have been less treats, more feats of endurance, with The Rum Diary and Transcendence weak and Into The Woods woeful. At least with the latter l could comfort myself with the fact that he's only in the film for about five minutes. But the same cannot be said for Mortdecai, in which he plays the eponymous hero in a self-styled 'comic crime caper' so apparently awful that Mark Kermode grudgingly bestowed with just one meagre star. Oh boy.

Modelled on the old school Pink Panther movies, the film certainly bears all the hallmarks of a classic heist romp - if by 'hallmarks' we mean annoying jingly soundtrack, smutty jokes and casual racism. With its gurning, school play cast of cads and bounders, posh totty and upper class twits, it's like watching a 100-minute-long Russ Abbott sketch – except the jokes aren't nearly as well written.

The ludicrous plot places blustering, broke buffoon Lord Mortdecai (Depp) at the heart of the word's most unconvincing art theft, complete with forgeries, Nazi gold and rank acts of drunkenness, deception and cowardice, as Johnny eschews sleepwalking mode for egregious pantomime-style overacting. What's new? you may well ask. But whereas with Jack Sparrow (who I'm starting to think has a lot to answer for) he created a unique character who raised the shonky concept of a swashbuckling action franchise based on a Disney World ride into something rather wonderful, here he's simply doing a bad impression of Paul Whitehouse's 13th Duke of Wynbourne. His shambling assembly of cliches, masks and mannerisms has no internal logic, no depth; his two-dimensional art-dealer turned detective simply gargles his way merrily through a script that confuses jokes about farts, breasts and gag reflexes for actual humour. (Meanwhile, the real Paul Whitehouse plays a Cockney Italian mechanic – go figure.)

Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor in Mortdecai

Okay, so a few moments raise a chuckle and the location filming is rather fun, but otherwise Mortdecai is simply embarrassing, and my main reaction was to cringe on behalf of the fine clutch of actors wasting their talents in this mess (oh, and Gwyneth Paltrow). Even Paul Bettany (playing Mortdecai's henchman, Jock Stapp. Indeed.) is rubbish – how is that possible? (Oh yeah. The Da Vinci Code...)

Perhaps if you were seven years old (roughly the age I was last time I saw The Pink Panther) Mortdecai would be a riot. If you're a grown up, it just comes across as puerile. So come on Johnny, buck up your ideas: you’re letting down your fans, and you’re letting down yourself. Our hero isn't the only person with a sensitive gag reflex, and Mortdecai has left me feeling a bit queasy.

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