The last few movies to feature Johnny Depp in some capacity (The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, Tusk) haven’t managed to impress either critically or at the box office, but that should change with this month’s Into the Woods musical movie adaptation, which features Depp in a supporting role. However, next year will see the release of two movies – the comical caper Mortdecai and the gangster biopic currently known as Black Mass – that will re-test the actor’s drawing power as the main attraction.
Mortdecai is based on the book series authored by Kyril Bonfiglioli (the novel “Don’t Point That Thing at Me” in particular), and stars Depp as Charles Mortdecai, an art dealer who’s as dubious as the curly mustache on his face. Hence, trouble soon follows when Charles is recruited by the British government to track down and recover a stolen painting that may contain some all too valuable secrets, waiting to be exploited.
Gwyneth Paltrow is costarring in Mortdecai as Johanna, Charles’ “impossible leggy wife” (as the official synopsis puts it), and new TV spots for the movie bank heavily on a running gag where she’s disgusted by her husband’s facial hair. The majority of the Mortdecai footage that’s been included in the film’s marketing buildup has revolved around similar slapsticky jokes, which have been strung together to give a better feel for the sort of cartoonish, irreverent, tone this crime/comedy is aiming for.
Joining Depp and Paltrow in the Mortdecai shenanigans are such well-known acting folk as Ewan McGregor, Jeff Goldblum, Paul Bettany, and Olivia Munn, drawing from an adapted script penned by relative newcomer Eric Aronson.
The director on Mortdecai is David Koepp, who’s known for scripting big tentpoles such as Jurassic Park and Spider-Man. As a helmsman, however, Koepp’s movies tend to sell fewer tickets, even though they generally make for decent (if unremarkable) genre entertainment taken on their own terms (see: Stir of Echoes, Secret Window, Premium Rush). Mortdecai might too trying too hard to be zany for its own good, but you could do worse for a January film release.
Mortdecai opens in U.S. theaters on January 23rd, 2015.