May 18, 2015

[Movies] Mordecai (2015)

Johnny Depp seems to be following a path similar to Jim Carrey in the 90's. And what I mean by this is that he seems t be repeatedly cast in movies where he seems to play the same exaggerated, over-acting character type over and over again. It's something that probably crystallized after the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and hasn't let up since. Whether this is just something his agent is deciding for him or something he personally enjoys doing is something I can't quite figure out at this time.

Mortdecai is a particular unusual movie with a rather eccentric titular character and a somewhat convoluted adventure as well. It strikes me as rather strange that this movie is actually based on a series of books - I can only wonder what the original books were like in order to inspire a movie of this nature.

The movie feels a little long, especially since you spend most of it wondering where the heck things are headed. It doesn't help that Mortdecai as a character is pretty annoying and to force the audience to follow him around is a bit of a pain.

Synopsis: Mortdecai is an action comedy movie directed by David Koepp. The screenplay was written by Eric Aronson based on the Mortdecai book, Don't Point That Thing At Me by Kyril Bonfiglioli.

The titular protagonist is Lord Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp), a rather eccentric art dealer who is has fallen on slightly harder times as he and his wife Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) are in debt. The movie begins with Mortdecai trying to sell a rare vase to a Hong Kong business man / gangster when things turn south and a shootout ensues. Of course Mortdecai is rather useless in a fight and relies entirely on his manservant Jock (Paul Bettany) to fight off the thugs and save him from disaster.

When an art restorer is killed while working on a painting by Goya and the painting stolen, Inspector Alistair Martland (Ewan McGregor) is assigned to the case to figure out the murderer and retrieve the painting. He ends up approaching Mortdecai for his expertise as an art dealer of sorts but also because he has been in love with Johanna for years. Mortdecai eventually agrees in exchange for 10% of the proceeds of eventually selling the painting once recovered.

I can generally appreciate Johnny Depp's various character roles since he's a pretty good character actor in his own right. But then there are times when the role that he puts on feels a bit too much this time around. Mortdecai seems to have very few redeeming qualities as a character and the lines written for him don't exactly push the sort of "rich person's humor" I figure the writers were aiming for. Whether it's strictly a writing problem or how things were somehow clouded by Depp's unusual accent used in delivering his lines here.

Gwyneth Paltrow is meant to be a sharp contrast to Depp and I suppose she does that well enough. But the overwhelming incompetence of Mortdecai as a character is hard to get past even with her cool sensibility as an alternative to things. Even Ewan McGregor's character is rather silly in the beginning but drastically becomes rather different in the end.

I didn't immediately recognize Paul Bettany as the thuggish manservant thug Jock, and he does well enough in the role. Then again, it's not too difficult a character to portray since he's largely silent and is mostly about his fists and such. Well that and being abused in a number of different ways by Mortdecai during their journeys. But hey, a manservant has to be absolutely loyal of course.

Things sort of come together much later in the movie with respect to the plot. However the way this comes about is through a significant bit of exposition by dialog. And it's a shame things had to go that way rather than have the story in a manner that the clues could be eventually come together in the minds of the audience. But hey that's just what happens sometimes for stories like this. If anything the movie does not encourage me to want to explore the books.

Mortdecai tries really hard to be this absurd yet somewhat clever movie but instead just feels silly in a bad way. It's not quite enough to become truly campy so instead it's just sad and more along the lines of unusual slapstick and bad lines. Thus the movie only gets 1.5 strange mustaches out of a possible 5.

1 comment:

  1. That 'Chinese guy' was actually the recently deceased Filipino stage actor Junix Inocian.