“Mortdecai” is the kind of film one attends when in the mood for some light, sophisticated silliness. It isn’t getting great reviews, but perhaps one’s expectations of the film are a bit off. This is an art-heist caper in the genre of The Pink Panther, complete with incompetent thugs, misguided detectives and aristocrats behaving badly.
Movie poster for ‘Mortdecai.’ Courtesy/Reel Deal Theater
Mortdecai, the movie, is based on “Don’t Point That Thing At Me,” the first in a trilogy of books written in the 1970s by British author Kyril Bonfiglioli. The trilogy achieved cult status at some point among its fans. This may explain the film’s brash confidence in its broad comedy, international intrigue and stereotypical characters.
Johnny Depp plays Charlie Mortdecai, a British lord deeply in debt and owing back taxes to Queen and Country. He is a bit of a rogue in international art circles and quite clueless about real life. His assets, however, include an encyclopedic knowledge of art history, a gorgeous Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, and a smart and highly desirable wife, Johanna, played by Gwyneth Paltrow. Ewan McGregor plays an old college friend working for Mi5 who has long nourished a crush on Johanna.
As Mortdecai is brought into the case of a stolen Goya painting, his manservant Jock protects him from Chinese thugs, a terrorist art thief, Russian mobsters, billionaires to whom Mortdecai owes money, the police and the Mi5. The dialogue is snappy. The mansions, art collections and cars of the rich create a world that’s fun to visit. Car chases, violence and sexual innuendo (though no actual sex) make this racy film deserving of its “R” rating.
This is a silly story, good for laughs, visually engaging, and you’d be hard pressed to be bored watching this film. But don’t see it with high expectations. It’s just fun.