It seems like everybody wants to hate this film. Even when it was months away from release, people seemed to be universally bad mouthing it. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why. Johnny does seem to be playing the same character over and over again. Pirates of the Caribbean, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Alice in Wonderland, The Lone Ranger and now Mortdecai, it’s not really surprising that people are getting sick of it. I am a little bit tired of his familiar, kooky routine, but nevertheless I wanted to give his latest outing a fair go, and I’m really glad I did.
I laughed a lot in this film, and they were big laughs too. Most of the funniest moments don’t come from Depp, however, but from Paul Bettany. He plays Jock, a thuggish ladies man that Charlie Mortdecai affectionately refers to as his ‘man servant’. Even though he’s cast completely against type, he delivers a brilliant comedic performance, and is completely believable as somebody who could beat up six Russian henchmen.
The story is actually quite interesting as well. There are no surprises, and not really much originality, but the film manages to run at a steady pace, while consistently creating funny circumstances for it’s characters. The film does slow down a little during the third quarter, but not enough to detract from the overall fun. To be fair, that’s all Mortdecai wants, and tries to be, good fun, and on that level it succeeds. The obvious comparison for this film is the Austin Powers franchise, and if you’re a fan of those films, as I am, you’re probably going to be a fan of this one.
So what about the eighth outing for Jack Sparrow? I mean, the Mad Hatter? Erm… Willy Wonka? Some of Johnny Depp’s performance does feel very familiar. The facial expressions and the unnatural movements are identical to some of his previous roles, but that’s really where the similarities end. The dialogue and source material bring enough outside influence to make Charlie Mortdecai a different enough character that after a while, you do stop making the comparisons in your mind.
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