Picture Little Lord Fauntleroy shouting "wiener." For 106 minutes. That's Mortdecai.
This is a movie made by unfunny grownups, featuring unpleasant grownups, intended for, well, this is where the process breaks down. I have no fucking clue who would like this thing, or why. Not even unpleasant adults deserve this. That's probably why there were only five people in the theater on opening night and I wasn't there by choice.
Mortdecai is strangely unfunny, uninteresting, unlikeable, empty and worthless. Maybe if you were on a first date with a girl with big tits and she picked Mortdecai, and she was deaf and blind so she thought she liked it, then you would say you enjoyed it too. But they'd have to be really big tits. Or, if you've been wishing Terry Thomas still made movies, only less sophisticated and with a lot of grade school wiener jokes, you'd be okay with this. But again, Terry Thomas fans tend to be deaf and blind.
Mortdecai must have started as an idea that seemed brilliant to someone drifting off to sleep, the kind of ideas that come to you when you're too tired to stop the locomotion of exhaustion from entering the tunnel of dreams. I'm talking about things like adding a second story to your bicycle and offering sightseeing tours, or putting strong magnets in your shoes so you don't fall off the railroad tracks when walking home late at night. These ideas fall apart in the exposure of daylight.
That's why most of us keep those shitty midnight embarrassments to ourselves, like ugly children locked in the basement. When sober and awake we clearly see they are not fit for society (although, there's still some merit in magnetic shoes) and we bolt the double door to the cellar of our dreams. We are ashamed, unless we're director David Koepp or screenwriter Eric Aronson. They were proud of their mistake. They dragged Mortdecai up the stairs and fed it corn pudding until it was big and strong. They dressed it in short pants, bowtie and a beanie cap. They made it come out and perform "Goodship Lollipop" for guests, sure that their hideous monstrosity was a delightful addition to any gathering.
Mortdecai's a dandy fop, a British lord in a modest castle who finances his Rolls Royce and art collection through con jobs in the snooty art world. He pets and talks about his mustache more than a fat middle-aged woman does about her cats. He's aggressively stupid, confusing hotel key cards with credit cards, has trouble working phones and shoots people point blank by accident. He's self-absorbed, greedy and conniving. Mortdecai has a thug manservant named, swear to god, Jock Strapp. The jokes get worse from there, and nobody stopped Koepp, Aronson or anyone else involved. No joke was considered too lame or juvenile for this movie.
Johnny Depp plays the titular character with the flamboyance and mincing of the least talented (but most committed) actor in a youth acting class at the rec center. Gwyneth Paltrow plays his icy wife Johanna. This must be the pinnacle of her acting career: having a posh Kensington accent and being the knowing object of desire. So, maybe Paltrow's not acting, just being the shriveled fucking rag she aspires to be. Her character's role is to hate her husband's mustache, a point that gets driven home with the repetition of the four-year-olds I see at work telling their moms they want candy.
Mortdecai owes the British government a shitload of money. To relieve his debt, an MI5 agent named Martland (Ewan MacGregor) enlists him to solve the mystery of a missing Goya painting. Martland also wants to take Mortdecai's wife for a pony ride, with his dick being the pony. This romantic entanglement is intended to be the source of comedic amusement, but the humor is as stillborn as the Harelip's last four children.
The story that follows is a feeble, disjointed continent-jumping caper, going from England to the U.S. and Russia to expose the audience to dollar-store-Pink Panther blunders and more poorly-considered stereotypes than It's a Small World. Maybe Koepp and Aronson are making a thesis that low-brow double entendres know no borders. What is shocking no matter where the story goes is how bad the jokes are. I would say intentionally bad, but I think they may be what passes as humor among pathologically humorless men.
The jokes are bad once, but in addition to not knowing any good jokes, Koepp and Aronson keep repeating themselves. Jock Strapp gets shot, beaten and more, and each time is supposed to be a real knee slapper. Paltrow literally gags on numerous uproarious occasions. Most of the comedy is schoolyard bits about genitals (a villain with live jumper cables keeps reappearing only to say "balls" each time he sparks the ends). Regarding his debt, Mortdecai says, "I had no idea I was so deep in the Queen's hole." Shit that lame would make a third-grader punch a girl in the dick.
The plot goes nowhere I wanted to be dragged. There is a starting and end point, but the moments in between are set pieces designed to highlight stupid wiener jokes and terrible clichés, not to entice an audience to care what's going on. Fuck, I'm pretty sure nobody making this gave a rat's ass about what was going on. They were too busy being strenuously "silly." The characters are uniformly unlikeable. I'm not sure I'm supposed to root for the poncy rich asshole, or the mean bad guys with jumper cables or nymphomaniac daughters, or the bitchy wife who gags a lot.
Mortdecai is detailed. It feels like the makers have exactly the finished product they wanted. For pete's sake, though, why? What kind of fucking sociopathic monster would make this? Why revive the drawing room from Terry Thomas movies and fifty-year-old stereotypes of the upper-crust that weren't funny then and have aged as gracefully as an open can of black beans? In fact, it's based on a 1970s novel, which must have been pretty corny 40 years ago.
I can think of only one thing that Mortdecai does well, and that is the animation illustrating travel from locale to locale. Sadly, the assholes eventually land and start talking again, about wieners and a stupid fucking mustache that isn't nearly amusing enough to carry a face let alone a whole movie.
One Fucking Finger for Mortdecai. Koepp and Aronson need to stop having ideas, or at least to keep them locked up when they do.
On a side note: I am looking to migrate this fine site to a better hosting service. My current provider is too damn slow to process the site as many of you have noticed. Anyone who knows of good, cheap hosting for Joomla, please use the Touch Filthy tab to help me out. I can't afford a VPS or dedicated server. Trust me on that.