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Art dealer, Charles Mortdecai, searches for a stolen painting rumored to contain a secret code that gains access to hidden Nazi gold.

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Mortdecai movie full length review - The first terrible movie of 2015

Ladies and gentleman, it only took three weeks at the box office, but we officially have our first terrible film of 2015: the inert, impotent art-heist comedy, Mortdecai.

Mortdecai stars Johnny Depp as the insufferably cheeky rogue at the center of the film and I often found myself wondering, "What did we, the movie-going public ever do to you, Johnny Depp, do deserve such abuse?" I never got my answer but I did get my fill of Depp hamming it up like a prize pig at the 4-H Fair. Depp's Charlie Mortdecai is an unholy marriage of Ralph Fienne's M. Gustave from The Grand Budapest Hotel (mustache and all) and? Mr. Magoo, the blind, dithering old man who wanders his way in and out of trouble by way of happenstance and dumb luck. This obnoxious combination of otherwise hilarious and fun characters (on their own and not in the hands of Johnny Depp) is at best devoid of any charm and at worst a constant reminder that you could be doing something, anything more productive than watching Mortdecai.

Things I'd have rather done than watch Mortdecai:

Take apart all my IKEA furniture and then put it back together. Watch nine hours of Steve Harvey reacting to contestant answers on "Family Feud." Open a credit card with an enormously high interest rate. Eat a live rat.

But I can't put all the blame on Depp here. Despite his erratic performance that fluctuates from over-the-top madness to tediously dull (often times in the exact same scene), a good amount of scorn has to be placed on director David Koepp (Stir of Echoes, Secret Window) who clearly has no idea what to do with this story. Koepp's style of direction is akin to putting on a tailored suit and then slipping into a pair of house slippers. There's a visual style to his sets and characters, but once the pieces start moving, everything goes out the window. There are only a few action sequences in Mortdecai but all of them look atrocious, almost as though you were watching a poorly rehearsed local theater troupe on opening night. It's embarrassing considering the pedigree of performers that make up this film and also Olivia Munn.

I compared Depp's Charlie Mortdecai to Ralph Fienne's character in The Grand Budapest Hotel earlier not only because it's an accurate comparison, but because Depp is seemingly doing a bad impression of the dapper, profane concierge. I'd love to know how much of Fienne's performance, if any, Depp (or Koepp) may have seen during the time between Grand Budapest's production wrap in March of 2013 and Mortdecai's first day of filming in October of that same year. I'm not making any kind of wild accusations, only pointing out that the similarities in performances is uncanny save for the Depp's complete inability to endear himself to anyone in my screening.*

Keeping in mind that Mortdecai is based on a four book series of British novels written in the 1970s, perhaps this kind of story ? and humor ? is just not suited for American audiences in 2015. We're meant to laugh at Charlie Mortdecai's quasi-effeminate, sometimes-incompetent gentleman rogue, but it's so hard to get a grasp on the character's motivations and rationalizations that you just end up throwing your hands up and saying, "Whatever!" And even after I threw out any sense of emotional investment in the characters or the story, Mortdecai still failed to deliver any kind of satisfying experience that even MOR comedies like last year's Happy Christmas delivered in spades. It's frustrating to come down so hard on a comedy, especially when it's clearly trying to be funny (I sincerely hope you like mustache jokes), but Mortdecai is such a complete failure across the board that I see no other option other than merciless slaughter via movie review.

When it's not busy humorlessly mugging for the camera, Mortdecai has its nose to the grindstone in an effort to bore audiences to tears. It's a dreary, sleepy comedy caper whose only redeeming qualities are its quick pace and a few fun scenes with a game Gwyneth Paltrow taking the reins for a moment. Early in the film, Ewan McGregor's police inspector Martland asks himself, after realizing his new case will require the help of his nemesis and art expert Charlie Mortdecai, "Why did it have to be art?" No worries, old boy. It's not.

* I was the only one in the theater.