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Dustin Putman

Mortdecai  (2015)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
1 Star
(Release Date: May 12, 2015) – Give it to would-be comedy caper "Mortdecai" for this: Johnny Depp (2014's "Into the Woods") commits fully to his bumbling, lunkheaded title character, an aristocratic art dealer with the eloquence (or lack thereof) of Inspector Clouseau. He and his central co-stars—Gwyneth Paltrow (2013's "Iron Man 3") as spitfire wife Johanna; Paul Bettany (2015's "The Avengers: Age of Ultron") as sexually voracious manservant Jock, and Ewan McGregor (2013's "August: Osage County") as the starry-eyed Inspector Alistair Martland—show no signs that they realize they are in a big-budget misfire of the first order. The globe-trotting plot finds the London-based Mortdecai agreeing to help Martland with his investigation into the murder of an art restorer and the theft of a valuable Goya, but really, the ins and outs of the story are inconsequential next to the movie's main focus: Mortdecai's ridiculous handlebar mustache.

Based on the 1973 novel "Don't Point That Thing at Me" by Kyril Bonfiglioli, "Mortdecai" is a tone-deaf head-scratcher with jokes so juvenile and pedestrian one has to wonder over and over how the picture got made at all. If director David Koepp's (2012's "Premium Rush") goal was to mount the next "Austin Powers," he has been sorely led astray by Eric Aronson's (2001's "On the Line") dismally bad screenplay, which seems to think Mortdecai's facial hair and Johanna's gag reflex every time she tries to kiss him are the height of hilarity. They are not, and as Mortdecai and Jock—and later Johanna—gallivant from London to Los Angeles, the supposed intrigue of their misadventures is undercut by one sad truth: there is nothing and no one on the screen to care about. "Mortdecai" wallows in the shallow and moronic as the energetic actors struggle to bring dignity to a project that has none. They should have known better.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

As a movie, "Mortdecai" is almost as rancid as the dim-witted art dealer's moldy cheese collection. Aesthetically, though, it looks quite lovely on Blu-ray in all its 1080p glory. Colors are a tad hot, but bursting with radiance and contrast. Detail and clarity are top-notch. Image depth is notable. Blemishes and marks are nonexistent, while just a slight sign of shimmer glares its ugly head on both a gate and a car's front grill. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is a bustling presentation with music full and complementary within the soundfield. While dialogue scenes stick predominately to the front channels, action set-pieces (including gunplay, chases and a motel explosion) open up the surrounds. On a purely technical level, "Mortdecai" delivers.

Blu-ray Features
  • "Stolen Moments: On the Set of Mortdecai" Featurette (16:34, HD)
  • "The Art of Noise: Making Music for Mortdecai" Featurette (12:25, HD)
  • Teaser Trailer (1:23, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:33, HD)
Bottom Line
"Mortdecai" crashed and burned at the box office (it made less than $8-million in the U.S. on a budget of $60-million), and it is easy to see why. Johnny Depp's participation or not, the film is ill-advised in the extreme, too bawdy for families and too puerile for adult audiences. Worse still, it's just not funny (I never laughed, and may have only silently smirked once). Lionsgate's Blu-ray release of "Mortdecai" presents the movie in its best light, but that's sadly not saying much. For sheer curiosity purposes, those prospective viewers who are interested in the film or are completists of one of the actors' work should give it a rent. Everyone else can skip.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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