Mortdecai: Not What the Critics Say

Mortdecai: Not What the Critics Say

Emily Donovan, News Editor

Some people do more research than others on the movies they plan on seeing. If you look up Mortdecai on Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll see it has been given an 11% approval rating. Needless to say, I walked in to the theatre with low expectations. However, when the lights came on at the end, I realized I had actually enjoyed myself. Directed by David Koepp, Mortdecai is an action/comedy set in modern day that stars Johnny Depp as the title character. Gwyneth Paltrow (Johanna Mortdecai), Ewan McGregor (Alistair Martland), and Paul Bettany (Jock) accompany Depp in this film.

Charlie Mortdecai, a quirky British art dealer, is £8,000,000 in debt when the film opens. He and his wife, Johanna, have hit a tough spot in their marriage. His loyal manservant, Jock, seems to be the only good part of his life. Then, MI5 Inspector Martland approaches Mortdecai, requesting his assistance in retrieving a stolen masterpiece. Mortdecai accepts the challenge, hoping that the profit he makes from helping Martland will be enough to pay off his debt. Along the way, Mortdecai and Jock run into trouble with the American they suspect has stolen the painting along with a group of Russians who are interested in having it for themselves. Meanwhile, Johanna finds a man called “The Duke” and questions him about the stolen masterpiece. She learns that a secret code, rumored to point to a stash of Nazi treasure, has been written on the back of the painting, thus making it all the more valuable.

Johnny Depp’s humor has always been reliant on his body language. His role in Mortdecai is no exception. Particularly in the beginning of the film, the twitches of his mouth and eyes add to the comedic value of Mortdecai. If you’re not paying attention, it’s easy to miss these subtleties. Perhaps this could be a partial explanation for some of the bad reviews the movie has received. Nevertheless, Depp portrays this sometimes-unsuspecting character with the peculiarity he deserves.

Depp’s costar Gwyneth Paltrow does Johanna Mortdecai a great deal of justice. Seeing as she plays the wife of the main character, I expected her to be pushed to the background like many female characters in the past have been. I was pleasantly surprised when it turned out Johanna was also an important contributor to the plot. Paltrow was a good casting choice for Johanna, a quick-witted and scheming woman. Previously, she has played Pepper Potts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, known for being a strong female character.

Besides Depp’s and Paltrow’s acting, the set design is worth mentioning. The Mortdecai household is lavishly decorated with antiques, as one would expect from an art dealer. At first glance, you would think the movie was set in the past. Each set has been paid attention to in great detail by the crew. Although considering the box office earnings, it may have cost the production company more than it was worth.


I’m not sure if some critics expected more action than comedy, or if the humor wasn’t to their taste, but I don’t believe Mortdecai deserves such harsh reviews. Granted, it wasn’t the best comedy I’ve seen recently, but still, I’d give it a B- overall. I would recommend waiting until Mortdecai comes out on DVD and Blu-ray if you’re really interested in seeing it. If not, give it a chance when it begins playing on TV for free.