Mortdecai – gag reflexes, humour and more

Posted on 30 January 2015
By George Heron
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No. Sorry to disappoint, but this film is not a spin-off of popular kid’s cartoon Regular Show.

This is Johnny Depp as an art dealer with his fingers in many pies. He is Charlie Mortdecai. Do me a solid and read on.

He’s having a rocky relationship with his wife due to his moustache, which causes her to gag reflex when they kiss. Then, the MI5 knock on his door and ask for assistance in finding a painting once owned by Hermann Göring, which could be worth millions.

A painting that could be dangerous in the wrong hands.

There is a character called Jock who is Mortdecai’s bodyguard. I could have sworn I knew him from somewhere and you’ll think the same too. You would have thought to yourself: “Maybe he’s from Eastenders.” However, it is Paul Bettany, he of Master and Commander, Wimbledon and Iron Man’s Jarvis. Never thought he could play the hard man like that. He brings a Minder vibe to the mix with shades of Dennis Waterman.

Based on a series of comic thriller novels from the 70s written by Kyril Bonfiglioli, fans of the book will have waited for decades for an adaptation of some kind. You can’t get much better than having Johnny Depp play your lead and you’d never think he was American with his stiff upper lip and all.

The music doesn’t seem to fit with the film. Mark Ronson, he of Uptown Funk fame and Geoff Zanelli (Disturbia) concoct a psychedelic Austin Powers-esque score that doesn’t fit in with the upper class twit that Mortdecai is. He comes across more of a classical music junkie if anything.

The transitions are impressive at first but possibly a little overused – two in particular.

As Mortdecai jets around the world, the name of the location is displayed in the horizon in large block capitals and the camera speeds to it’s next destination; secondly, the camera will focus on a certain part of a scene and do a 360 around it. The latter is intended to be a running gag but should only have been used the once.

It is essential for a comedy to make you laugh and like the transitions, a lot of the humour falls flat. This is a film that contains the amazing Paul Whitehouse too, who is given lines that waste his comic potential.

The best joke is one Depp tells about farting. Mortdecai’s sympathetic gag-reflex-gag when someone else felt sick is amusing too.

The rest of the audience, about a dozen of them, were largely apathetic. Some were using phones, some teenage girls were gossiping about something or other. My fiancé fell asleep for half the film and didn’t bother asking me to fill any gaps that she missed. Glad I qualified that last sentence, very in-keeping with this film’s low brow attempts at humour.

If your a fan of the books satisfy your curiosity and check it out.