Review of: Mortdecai
Charles Mortdecai is a foppish English gentleman and a somewhat unscrupulous art dealer with ties to the filthy underside of the art world. Lord Mortdecai sports all of the airs (and mustache) of the landed gentry, while not being especially competent at anything outside of art. Charlie is a cross between Inspector Clouseau (i.e. The Pink Panther) and Bertie Wooster (P.G. Woodhouse). Charlie is not quite as oblivious as and is more articulate than Clouseau (“I am loved by all who know me…. mostly.”). But like Bertie he is almost helpless without his manservant and thug Jock. “Jock, will it be alright in the end?” Jock: “I couldn’t say sir.”
Mortdecai the movie is a master class on comedic acting given by Johnny Depp. No one is as able to pull off the facial contortions, the language and physical comedy any better today than Depp. He is in virtually every scene and you are laughing continuously.
This story is a fun mystery where Charlie is heavily in debt and is thus forced to help MI5’s Inspector Martland recover a lost Goya painting with possible ties to a lost Nazi bank account. As with the best of the Pike Panther films this comedy has plot twists galore and characters to love.
Beside loyal Jock (played perfectly simply by a scarred, hulking Paul Bettany) Gwyneth Paltrow is Johanna, Lady Mortdecai, the real brains behind the hen-pecked Charlie. Paltrow is the perfect English Lady trying to keep Charlie out of trouble and yet firmly controlling Charlie on all things; with the possible exception of Charlie’s beloved moustache.
Ewan McGregor is Inspector Martland who is long time school chum of Charlie and potential rival of Johanna’s affections. McGregor along with Olivia Munn and Jeff Goldblum round out a cast that are appropriate supports and foils to Depp’s masterful Charlie.
This film is based on the first of Kryril Bonfiglioli’s Mordecai Trilogy. I am hoping that this means we will see one or two more Mortdecai films in the future. Johnny Depp is perfect in this hilarious blend of silliness, mystery and upper crust invective. For example, when Charlie want to insult a Russian thug is does so with a particular flair we all wish we had: “Your mother and father met only once, and money changed hands”.