Review: ‘Mortdecai’ provides cheap laughs but not much else

2015-01-30-Mortdecai-movie-posterBy MARK VIOLA

Sometimes movies simply confuse me, such as those films with dense, incredibly involved plots that may take multiple viewings to even begin to get a grasp on their deeper meaning and message. “Mortdecai” is not one of those movies at all. But I still found myself terribly confused upon leaving the theater.

This weird little comedy starring Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) is not a good movie. There really isn’t much to like about it. The story doesn’t really give us much of anything new, tying tired mystery tropes together in a passable plot at best. Everyone overacts from start to finish, led by Depp, who gives us another one of his quirky performances that never work as good as it did in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films. The humor isn’t smart. In fact, more often than not, it caters to the lowest common denominator, going as far as a puke gag in what I was about to call the climactic car chase scene before I remembered there was another 20 or so minutes after that.

Still, I left the theater utterly confused. Not because I couldn’t follow the film, despite the many story conveniences and plot holes, but because I laughed a lot during the course of this movie. I didn’t feel terribly good about it. But laugh I did. And so did most of the handful of people in the showing I was in.

“Mortdecai” is a silly film, filled with low-brow jokes and gallons of over-acting, but somehow it made me laugh quite a bit. The movie could have been better, and with quite a few quality films out there–mostly holdovers from 2014–it’s hard to recommend spending money to go see “Mortdecai,” but if you’re looking for cheap laughs, it does indeed have that.

The movie is rated R for some language and sexual material.

(This is a shortened version of the full review available in our printed or e-edition papers.)

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