'Mortdecai': What the Critics Are Saying

Johnny Depp stars as a desperate art dealer on a mission in the David Koepp-directed comedy alongside Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor and Olivia Munn.

Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp as a near-bankrupt art dealer on the hunt for a stolen painting that contains the code to a lost bank account carrying Nazi gold.

Directed by David Koepp and written by Eric Aronson, the action-comedy — based on the 1970s comic novel series of the same name by English author Kyril Bonfiglioli — also stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Olivia Munn, Jonny Pasvolsky, Paul Bettany and Jeff Goldblum.

See what top critics are saying about Mortdecai:

The Hollywood Reporter's Stephen Dalton calls it "an anachronistic mess that never succeeds in re-creating the breezy tone or snappy rhythm of the classic caper movies that it aims to pastiche. Despite a heavyweight cast and the solid directing skills of A-list screenwriter Koepp, this charmless farce ends up as another black mark on Depp's recent track record of patchy pet projects."

The film "is stuffed with star names and classic farce ingredients, but its fatal flaw is an almost surreal lack of jokes. The main players spend almost every scene mugging desperately for the camera, milking every possible lowbrow sexual innuendo and clumsy slapstick mishap in novice screenwriter Aronson's thin script. Ironically, these overcooked performances are often more hindrance than help when the occasional funny line arises."

The New York Times' Stephen Holden calls it a "vanity project" that "might as well be called The Johnny Depp Movie." Depp's "wizardly expertise at disappearing into a character is intact. But what if that character isn’t funny and hasn’t an ounce of charm? Charlie Mortdecai, a bumbling aristocratic bon vivant and sociopath who lives beyond his means and deals in stolen art, is a vehicle for Depp to turn into a kind of Austin Powers manqué. There is no wink behind the wink because Depp is so busy showing off."

New York Daily News' Elizabeth Weitzman calls it a "disastrously misjudged career low. ... Koepp mistakenly treats Mortdecai’s casual sexism, homophobia, blind privilege and obscene entitlement as delightfully charming, rather than — like the film’s clear precursor, Austin Powers — entertainingly clueless. ... Paltrow and McGregor play things straight which, at the very least, feels like the sanest response to the madness surrounding them. But then Depp sucks so much air out of every scene that we barely notice anyone else. His faux accented, wild-eyed and insanely mannered performance makes Pirates of the Caribbean’s Jack Sparrow look like a model of uptight restraint."

Time Out London's Tom Huddleston notes the script "offers up a small handful of decent gags, and there are just enough pratfalls and wacky cameos (Paul Whitehouse! Jeff Goldblum!) to drag us through the boring bits. ... It’s not thrilling enough for the multiplex crowd and not funny enough to work as out-and-out comedy. The aristocratic in-jokes are sure to alienate US audiences, while Brits will be put off by the sheer relentless fakery of it all. It’s hard to escape the suspicion that the only people sure to enjoy Mortdecai are Depp, Paltrow and perhaps Tim Burton and Madonna."

The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw writes, "The poster is awful. The premise is awful. To be frank, quite a lot about it is awful: a middle-aged comedy caper of the kind not seen since Peter Sellers’s final outings as Clouseau and Fu Manchu. But in its dopey and silly way, it does deliver one or two daft laughs."

comments powered by Disqus