Directed by David Koepp
Do you remember that “Pink Panther” movie with Steve Martin and Beyoncé? What about the atrocious second one that had Alfred Molina and Andy Garcia? I shudder to think of them. But I’d choose to watch those on repeat for three days straight before I wasted another two hours watching Johnny Depp’s ridiculous “Mortdecai.” At its core, “Mortdecai” is just another silly caper movie like “Pink Panther,” but it doesn’t bother to tell a story worth caring about. Also, the characters are forgettable and flat. And where was the humor?
Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is called upon by MI5’s Martland (Ewan McGregor) to find a stolen Goya painting. Along with his manservant Jock (Paul Bettany), Mortdecai will globe-trot to Moscow, Oxford, and Los Angeles to find the painting and stop the man he believed to have taken it. But he’ll run into a few characters along the way, including the likes of Olivia Munn, Jeff Goldblum, and Jonny Pasvolsky. As his wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) waits for him back in their London home, Mortdecai will find his share of troubles on the road to (he hopes) great fame and fortune.
When a supporting character played by C-lister Paul Bettany is your best asset, you have a problem. A-listers Depp (whose last starring film role landed on my Worst of 2014 list), Paltrow, and McGregor just don’t cut it. They fall entirely flat, like their undeveloped, paper-thin characters. We know the Mortdecai marriage is struggling, but why? We know Charlie has the title of “Lord” before his name, but we know nothing about his past or his family or about Johanna’s past. Really, all we know is that they have names. For that, we can blame screenwriter Eric Aronson, whose only other screenwriting credit is for “On the Line,” a 2001 musical rom-com starring Lance Bass and Joey Fatone of N*Sync. So, yeah, that explains a lot. These characters are only the means to an end…a not-so-mysterious, anti-climactic end, at that. Plus, the end took forever to get there. It was nowhere in sight. After an hour, I had definitely lost interest in the story. After an hour and a half, I was nearly asleep. When it was finally over, I couldn’t believe it wasn’t morning yet.
A twisty story wasn’t enough to hold my interest, or even grab it in the first place. Unfounded plot twists can only get a movie so far – and in the case of “Mortdecai,” that isn’t very far at all.