Johnny Depp's oddball schtick is tiresome in Mortdecai

Johnny Depp is shady art dealer Charlie Mortdecai with Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife. -- PHOTO: DAVID APPLEBY AND CATHAY-KERIS FILMS
Johnny Depp is shady art dealer Charlie Mortdecai with Gwyneth Paltrow as his wife. -- PHOTO: DAVID APPLEBY AND CATHAY-KERIS FILMS

Review Comedy

MORTDECAI (NC16)

107 minutes/Opens tomorrow/**

The story: Shady art dealer Charlie Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) and his wife Joanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) are on the brink of bankruptcy. He agrees to help MI5 agent Markland (Ewan McGregor) retrieve a stolen Goya painting, in exchange for a cut of the money after its sale.

Johnny Depp's oddball schtick is getting really tiresome.

What was once his selling point is starting to feel old, especially when his performance here is so uninspiring.

As the foppish Mortdecai, he waltzes about with a plummy English accent, dishing out useless lines such as "Right-O!" and "I say, old bean", all the while obsessing over his moustache.

In fact, his facial hair is referenced a little too often in this film, even becoming the main cause of tension in his marriage. Every time his wife Joanna tries to kiss him, she starts gagging - a gag that is moronically unfunny for the viewer.

It is hardly surprising that the film bombed at the box office when it opened in the United States last weekend, making it the third straight Depp movie to flop after Transcendence (2014) and The Lone Ranger (2013).

The biggest problem with his latest work is that it never manages to find the right tone.

It takes cues from classic capers such as Peter Sellers' Pink Panther and Fu Manchu movies but, in the modern setting, this feels grossly dated and out of place.

Some of the jokes even retain the borderline racist undertones of those films, such as the stereotypical caricatures of a group of Chinese triad members who have names such as Fang Fat.

Then, there are ridiculous side characters such as Jock Strapp (yes, that is the type of humour employed here), Mortdecai's manservant who also acts as his trusty bodyguard - whenever he is not getting into bed with random women.

Meanwhile, Olivia Munn plays a "famed nymphomaniac" who greets Mortdecai by asking him to feel her chest and Jeff Goldblum is her sleazy billionaire father who encourages Mortdecai to accept her sexual advances. Ewan McGregor is the goofy MI5 agent who starts grinning uncontrollably when he sees his unrequited love Joanna.

It is amazing that the top-rated cast signed on to this project, though they might have heaps of faith in the usually reliable writer-director David Koepp, who wrote Jurassic Park (1993) and Mission: Impossible (1996) and also made the Joseph Gordon Levitt sleeper hit Premium Rush (2012).

Like Depp, though, it looks like Koepp is losing his touch.