2015 / Director. David Koepp.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
MORTDECAI is a strangely compelling throwback to the sort of films Blake Edwards made. Based on a series of novels from the 1970s, it chronicles the farcical escapades of Charlie Mortdecai, a shady British art dealer. When the British secret service call upon his help to track down a stolen painting, he finds himself caught in a deadly plot, globe trotting and dodging bullets.
Championed by Johnny Depp, who is a fan of the books, the film is an oddball comedy in the vein of THE PINK PANTHER and MODESTY BLAISE. Adopting a ridiculous moustache and a debonair persona, Depp oozes charisma and leaps off the screen in a way that only he can. He is joined by an impressive cast including Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Jeff Goldblum. Every player in the film understands the comic nature of the material and hits every beat. The comedy is very well timed and despite being of an outlandish nature, it is also very nicely underplayed.
I went into the film with some reservation. I don't take to this brand of comedy very easily and my guard was up from the get go. Thankfully it was only a matter of minutes before I found myself wrapped up in it, chuckling at every whimsical mannerism that Depp could muster. As usual he embodies the character and gives 100%. The film is full of oddities including a classic 1960's aesthetic, which is placed firmly in modern London. The contrast of styles is often perplexing, but lends the story an added lunacy. But the biggest oddity of the film is that both of its leads and its director, David Koepp, are American. It could have been a dicey outcome with the strength of movie relying on a deep seated understanding of British farce. By all accounts every player involved 'gets' it.
MORTDECAI is a comedy with a false sense of sophistication. If the film had a tongue it would be planted firmly in its cheek. The comedy is puerile and demands that the viewer lighten up and go along with it. If you can't find humour in fart gags and vomit then you best look elsewhere. I got a real kick out of this one and I'm certain that it will gain more momentum with repeat viewings.