Friday, January 23, 2015

Theatrical Review: Mortdecai

Date: Friday January 23 2015

Time: 2 pm
Location: Pocono Movieplex
Party: 3 (my mom, sister & I)

Director: David Koepp
Based on the novel "Don't Point that Thing at me" by Kyril Bonfiglioli
Type: Comedic Heist spoof


Mortdecai- Johnny Depp
Johanna- Gwyneth Paltrow
Martland- Ewan McGregor
Jacques- Paul Bettany
Krampf-Jeff Goldblum
Georgina- Olivia Munn

Introduction and Trailers

The three of us were the only ones in the theater, but then it's not every day that the local theater has matiness on Fridays... rather strange, considering that movies come out on Fridays. I paid for the tickets, my sister paid for some Reese's Pieces... and we practically had the place to ourselves.

The two trailers were so-so.
The first was for Will Smith's new movie "Focus"... I can't even remember what it's about other than he's a bit of a gambler/player who hires a girl to get to someone he wants to steal from... I didn't even catch the name until we left the theater and saw it on one of the posters.

The second had me thinking about the sad state Adam Sandler's career has taken over the last five years... not that Will Ferrell does a lot of great movies in general... having Kevin Hart as his co-star might give "Get Hard" a boost. Supposedly, Will Ferrell plays a rich guy who is indicted and has jail time coming to him and Kevin Hart teaches him how to "survive on the inside"... why do I get the feeling he's not even going to spend jail time?


Mortdecai is a rich snooty Brit who happens to be an expert in fine art. Occasionally, this allows him to be an asset to the local police. He lives with his wife, Johanna, who takes a strong stance against his new moustache, and his manservant, who takes a lot of accidental damage in the field of duty.
The plot revolves around finding a missing Goya painting.

Casting and Other Comments

This is probably the first time in a couple years I saw a movie before reading any of the reviews... somehow I get the feeling all of them will read the same after a while.

Based on the trailers, I figured this would be a decently funny movie. It's certainly in the vein of the "Pink Panther" movies. The question is whether it's better or worse than the Steve Martin versions of that brand...
I don't know what I came expecting, but the way they were selling soap for this movie... the fact Ellen said on her show that was ridiculously funny and asked how they could survive laughing between takes, I thought it'd be a LOL type of affair.
During the first half of the film, it was anything but that and I was very disappointed.

Johnny Depp is recognizable as this character about as much as his accent is well-done. In which case, it wasn't the best British accent I've ever heard. But I don't think that was the point.
The point was that he's supposed to be the protagonist yet I didn't really find him very interesting.
Gwyneth Paltrow lit up the screen as his wife and attempted to keep Mortdecai grounded as best she could...
The most interesting character was actually the manservant. Jacques suffers from a lot of accidental injuries. Heck, Mortdecai has him accidentally shot at least three times (once in a flashback that was obviously a jab at Dick Cheney's "hunting incident"). But like a good employee, Jacques does everything asked of him without question. He also has a very healthy sex life that leads to some good shenanigans.
And of course I found Ewan McGregor charming... I always find him charming. Even though he is trying to woo Johanna away from her husband (who is less than pleased with the moustache), he doesn't do it in an overbearing manner as to make him unlikable.

One could argue that Mortdecai had all the makings of a primary character. Some defined traits. Motivation. But I didn't feel like he was three-dimensional.
A lot of the other characters had the issue of not being three-dimensional... but the protagonist kinda needs that to succeed.

The editing can be jarring at times, particularly when they transition from city to city, showing the airplane travel over 3D renderings.

To their credit, the movie did get funnier when the action started coming in. The movie began with Mortdecai negotiating a price for a vase with some gangsters of Asian decent, something that goes terribly wrong. At one point, he gets kidnapped by another group of people interested in the Goya painting.
The realization that we were in Moscow, I felt like that flipped the switch and I became invested... between that and the realization that the Russian thugs were threatening to apply shock therapy to Mortdecai's nether-region... probably because they reminded me of two key interests of mine... a great chase scene followed where Mortdecai and his manservant (who somehow managed to follow his kidnappers all the way here) escape on a motorcycle and sidecar.

The movie did get progressively better, but there were still a lot of goofy moments that generated awkward laughter... like how two people who planned to steal the painting from Krampf's residence poured poison randomly over the shellfish platter... whoever wrote the line in the script "It's the shellfish!" should never work in this industry again.
To make up for that, partially, vomit did have practical use in the following chase scene... something I never thought I'd get to say because I usually am very anti-vomit when it comes to movies.

Another positive that came later on was a revelation about Johanna that got her more involved with the movie... making her more than just Mortdecai's wife who might leave him in his absence because of his moustache and the fact they're steeped in debt. for the rating, I thought it was a little much. There was one f-bomb (the only profanity in the entire film). There was a very brief sex scene in a flashback with no nudity to really speak of, one scene where we hear sex noises in a hotel room, and multiple references to Jacques's sex life.
They could have easily gotten away with PG13 on this... I've expressed these concerns previously about G-rated movies. One lewd reference or moment of "peril" automatically garners a PG rating. By those rules, anything that isn't direct-to-DVD and/or based off a show for elementary kids will be PG... therefore the G-rated movie is as good as dead.

Grade: B+
(The first half was worth a B, the second half an A-)

I don't think I'd recommend spending money to see this. Although my mom and sister said they enjoyed themselves as well.
It saddens me to say this as a Johnny Depp fan, but based on recent choices he's made (by that, I mean "The Lone Ranger"... I actually liked "Dark Shadows"), I don't think I can put him in the same class as some other A-list actors... not anymore.

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