Mortdecai (2015)

(Video on Demand, June 2015)  I quite enjoyed Mordecai, but I’ll be the first one to admit that it’s got a peculiar sense of humor: it’s far more ridiculous than funny, and that’s a tricky tone to appreciate.  Johnny Depp stars with, once again, a consciously off-the-wall performance as an art dealer who gets embroiled in all sorts of shenanigans surrounding an infamous painting.  (While he’s initially portrayed as incompetent, the film improves immeasurably when we get an idea of his true skills.)  Gwyneth Paltrow, unexpectedly radiant, joins the fun as Lady Mortdecai, while Paul Betttany, Ewan McGregor and Jeff Goldblum also seem to be enjoying themselves in their respective roles.  Of course, Mortdecai makes a few bold choices along the way, taking on a particular kind of humor than runs the risk of falling flat for those who aren’t perfectly attuned to what it’s trying to do.  I, for what that’s worth, didn’t laugh much throughout Mortdecai, but I smiled a lot, and found myself looking forward to the next ridiculous scene or bit of snappy dialogue.  Much of the humor is forced (the mustache gags are… special) but the silly tone itself is amusing, bringing to mind respectable references such as Wodehouse and less-respectable ones such as Hudson Hawk.  Director David Koepp keeps things moving briskly (the place transitions are a work of beauty), and it doesn’t take much to be swept up with the infectious oddball charm.   But, then again, keep in mind that I actually liked Hudson Hawk –don’t trust me if you don’t feel the same way.

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