The character Charles Mortdecai was created by the late author Kyril Bonfiglioli, and is the latest eccentric protagonist to be brought to life onscreen by Johnny Depp, in the upcoming film Mortdecai. A teaser trailer has been released for the film, ahead of its theatrical debut in early 2015 – and while the footage does include brief appearances from a number of notable supporting cast members, this clip is foremost Depp’s show.
Judging by the movie’s first preview, Depp’s performance can be best summarized as part Depp getting up to his usual oddball antics, part Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau – going by how Mortdecai’s obliviousness and general stupidity often results in some kind of physical comedy gag or slapstick ensuing. Indeed, Mortedecai director David Koepp (Premium Rush) appears to have, in essence, made a modern-day Pink Panther movie under a different name (and with more adult humor than the remake and its sequel starring Steve Martin, released in the 2000s).
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, mind. Depp isn’t exactly stepping far outside his his wheelhouse while playing Mortdecai, but the character’s lack of intelligence makes the role more interesting than Depp’s recent turns in such films as Dark Shadows and The Lone Ranger – movies where Depp played characters who lacked the depth of the outsiders he portrayed in prior, better-received films. Again, Mortdecai doesn’t exactly seem to have a rich personality, but at least here that’s part of the joke.
The Mortdecai storyline (written by relative unknown Eric Aronson) pits Russians, MI5 agents, Mortdecai and his “impossibly leggy wife” along with other colorful players, in a globe-trotting race to recover a MacGuffin in the form of a stolen painting – one that may contain the code to a bank account filled with Nazi gold. It’s a standard caper plot, but this sub-genre’s not exactly over-saturated with recent installments (unless your movie stars Muppets, perhaps) – and Mortdecai feels all the fresher for it.
Rounding out the cast of Mortdecai are such names as Olivia Munn (The Newsroom), Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man 3), Ewan McGregor (Jack the Giant Slayer), Jeff Goldblum (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Paul Bettany (Transcendence) and Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation), among others.
Mortdecai opens in U.S. theaters on February 6th, 2015.