It's been quite a decade for Johnny Depp in terms of the roller coaster of public-perception. Once a cult-film icon among hardcore film geeks for eschewing his early stature as an 80s teen idol for a series of offbeat roles mainly in small and independent films, he became the toast of Hollywood as Pirates of The Caribbean's Jack Sparrow. A huge spate of blockbuster roles followed, making him one of the world's biggest stars, but many onetime fans (and even more critics) have soured on the eccentric star after mixed receptions for his oddball takes on characters like Willy Wonka, The Mad Hatter or Tonto; which some have derisively dubbed his "silly hat" roles.
But now, Depp is receiving some of his best notices in awhile for trading silly-hats for silly-hair; playing business tycoon turned Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump in a full-length parody movie released this morning by Funny Or Die.
The film, titled Donald Trump's The Art of The Deal: The Movie, purports to be a "lost" made-for-television film written, directed by and starring Trump as himself in the mid-1980s. Loosely framed around the title and structure of Trump's (real) autobiography of the same title, it acts as a refresher-course on the various scandals, lawsuits, accusations of shady dealing and myriad public outrages that characterized Trump's public persona prior to reinventing himself as a reality television star on The Apprentice and, more recently, a controversial candidate for President of the United States. The film is preceded by an introduction from Ron Howard explaining that Trump supposedly removed the film from circulation out of spite because its original airing was preempted by Monday Night Football, and was presumed lost in a "Cybil Shephard Blouse Fire."
Shot and color-corrected to match the look and aspect ratio of an authentic 1980s movie of the week, The Art of The Deal features Depp under deliberately inauthentic-looking makeup and Trump's signature bizarre hairstyle as he presents a cartoonishly self-serving narrative of some of his most controversial moments as a notorious real-estate mogul in 1980s New York City, while also making pointed references to controversies dogging the real Trump's present day political campaigning. A host of other big stars are also on hand to help out with the joke, including Alfred Molina, Jack McBrayer, Kristen Schaal, Andy Richter and (because 80s) Alf. Patton Oswalt, Henry Winkler and Michaela Watkins in particular stand out as Merv Griffin, Ed Koch and Ivana Trump, respectively.
The basic retro-TV joke and 80s cameos are amusing enough on their own, but younger viewers who may only know of Trump as a politician and TV star will likely be surprised at how much actual history is being laid out amid all the jokes - which one imagines is largely the point. Funny Or Die is an online venture from politically-outspoken Anchorman director Adam McKay (currently an Oscar nominee for his Wall Street satire The Big Short) and The Art of The Deal has reportedly been secretly in the works for months under the direction of Drunk History creator Jeremy Konner. It's online release came mere hours after the real-life Trump had secured a victory in the New Hampshire Republican Primary and the announcement that Depp will take the lead in Universal's The Invisible Man.
While the spoof is already a hit online and will almost certainly make waves in the political media (one can safely assume Trump himself will weigh in, at some point) it remains to be seen appearing in this sort of viral sensation will thrust Depp back into film critics' good graces. His next "serious" feature is the delayed 2015 thriller London Fields, scheduled for release later this year. In the meantime, he'll next be seen reprising his Tusk role as Inspector Guy LaPointe for Kevin Smith's Yoga Hosers before returning to his Disney franchises with Alice Through The Looking Glass in 2016 and Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales in 2017.
Source: Funny Or Die