Starring: Johnny Depp, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Goldblum, Olivia Munn, Paul Bettany (Rated M – 106 min).
The first turkey of the year hits its stride during the closing credits when the audience will be jolted out of their forced slumber in anticipation that this deplorable embarrassing farce is finally over.
Supposedly a screwball comedy, the high profile cast and exotic locations do nothing to enhance credibility to the preposterous material being dealt out as humorous entertainment. Surprisingly dull and overtly stupid in no uncertain terms, I can see the idea was to make a light brisk comedic caper with swinging 1960s zing, but this is absolutely no Austin Powers or Inspector Clouseau.
The story, as robotic as it is, concerns loopy British aristocrat Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) debonair art dealer, smooth operator and likable rogue who is equally in love with his spindly moustache as much as his wife Joanna (Gwyneth Paltrow). Enlisted by former Oxford chum and friendly rival, now an intelligence analyst Martland (Ewan McGregor), to help find a missing, priceless Goya painting that has connections to a Nazi bank account. It’s just an excuse to stitch together traveling sequences.
The boring art theft investigation goes global from England to Russia to Los Angeles with nifty three dimensional imagery doubling for each city when flying in, a rare innovative touch. Although this is the latest in a series of flops (Lone Ranger, Transcendence), Depp cannot be held completely to blame, he remains energetic, eyes darting in confidence, permanent toothy smile, although endless unfunny British quips and a focus on moustache jokes become intolerable.
Being chased around by an assortment of undesirables includes a car chase through London and electrocution in Russia strikes me as lazy filmmaking, at no point is this movie as thrilling or hilarious as director David Koepp (Secret Window, Premium Rush) thinks it is. Paltrow supplies some eye candy joy, commendable comic timing and verve, looking the part in some revealing fashions, her tolerance of her bumbling husband is quaint.
Matching the glam is an underused Olivia Munn (The Newsroom) while Jeff Goldblum (Big Chill) who is always good value in anything, cannot save this. An unusually vacant McGregor seems to be sleepwalking, possibly dreaming of appearing in a better movie than this flat, nauseating opus.
Shane A. Bassett