Depp and a moustache don’t make good movies
First Posted: 1/26/2015
Oh, ho, ho, ho, ho! Mustaches! Right? Aren’t they hilarious? It’s hair that men can grow on their upper lip! Sometimes food gets in it and sometimes it can be curled to make yourself look like an old timey, arm-garter wearing bartender! Isn’t that just the ultimate utmost in comedy-like, humor-jokes?
Aren’t they just so deliciously quirky? Wouldn’t you just love to sit through a nearly two hour movie where 68 percent of the jokes revolve around someone pointing at a mustache as they say the word mustache in a very silly accent? If you answered yes to any of these questions, might I suggest that you wander off into the woods, dig yourself a big hole and then jump right in? Because you’re making things just a little bit worse for everyone else. But before you dig your own grave, you might want to make a brief stop at your local cinema because there’s a film playing right now that might be up your alley. Your mustache alley, that is!
I can be just as funny as “Mortdecai”!
Equal parts twee and moronic, “Mortdecai” feels like a bad Farrelly Brothers rip-off filtered through the stilted, precious qualities of those high school plays Max Fischer directed in “Rushmore.” It’s an insufferable combination that never really works, but, with that said, should projectile vomit and boners ever find their way inside a Wes Anderson movie, I doubt they’ll look as richly colored or symmetrical as they appear hear. Director of Photography Florian Hoffmaster really brings out the textured, storybook hues of Depp’s whimsy engorged hard-on. It’s so technically precise. So playfully evocative.
At any rate, Depp ostensibly plays a snooty, aggressively British (Depp’s inspiration appears to be Terry Thomas, the double entendre spewing comic who delighted all of your dead relatives) art dealer with aristocratic pretentions and unsavory, almost criminal, inclinations. But in reality, Depp’s character is just a mustache. A curly, Rollie Fingers-esque mustache that says things like “Chap”, “Old Bean” and other pretend, non-words fake British people utter when they’re jellying up their eels on a lift to the lorry-loo. Because even though “Mortdecai” boasts a weirdly complicated plot involving MI5, missing paintings and Olivia Munn’s comedy cleavage, the only real constant in the movie is Depp’s mustache. Mortdecai talks about it obsessively, characters glare at it ominously as they criticize it; silently mouthing the word mustache in between dialogue. Eventually, Mortdecai gets on an elevator and encounters other men with mustaches.
What? Yes! Can you believe it?
This film is so gratingly one-note it’s hard to believe it was based on a novel and not an Urban Outfitters t-shirt from seven years ago.
Best known as the scribe behind such blockbusters as “Jurassic Park”, “Mission: Impossible” and “Spider-Man” (as well as misfires like “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”, “The Shadow” and another little Depp-saster called “Secret Window”), director David Koepp attempts to give us a modern reimagining of “The Pink Panther” films but struggles with concepts like comedic timing and doesn’t seem to understand that jokes need a punchline or some kind of payoff. Why is it funny that Paul Bettany (playing a man-servant named Jock Strapp. Ugh. Just Ugh. To ugh-finity and bey-ugh) sleeps with a lot of women?
Do you want me to laugh every time Gwyneth Paltrow gags at Mortdecai’s mustache?
Or do you want me start cutting myself with the shards of a discarded Junior Mints box after the 15th time this non-joke is beaten into the ground?
Of course all of this weak material could have been strengthened significantly if an actual comedian was cast as Mortdecai. Instead, we got a 50 something, trilby obsessed millionaire who looks like a homeless man decided he was just going to wear everything he found in the American Apparel dumpster all at once. Depp eerily commits to his horrible choices and it’s nauseating to watch him perpetually waggle his eyebrows as he simpers out an affected British accent.
On the plus side, watching “Mortdecai” in theatres does carry a certain level of historic significance. You were there to see Depp’s career succumb to its final death throes. You witnessed Depp metaphorically swaddle his expired career in a shroud of discarded French scarves, place it inside one of the seven orange striped day-glo coffins Tim Burton gave him and set it adrift off the coast of his personal island. It’s poignant. And annoying.