Johnny Depp is probably loyal to a fault; actually scratch that, Johnny Depp IS loyal to a fault. Having worked with writer/director David Koepp previously on the so so Secret Garden, he once again teams up with the helmer for this retro, slapstick comedy that's likely to continue his startling losing streak at the box office.
Depp is a very eccentric, very British art dealing rogue who after going broke, somehow ends up running afoul of Mi5, an international terrorist and the odd billionaire. All this carnage and tomfoolery while in the midst of a fledging moustache, which for some reason is super important to him, but less so to his even posher better half (Paltrow). His arse is continually saved by "man servant" Jock (Bettany) as the blissfully unaware Mortdecai stumbles from one forced, comedically dangerous situation to another.
There's absolutely much to admire about Depp's insistence to work with those he's familiar and friends (Tim Burton, Gore Verbinski), but it may be clouding his judgement when it comes to his choice of role. When Pirates of the Caribbean made an (always credible) Depp global box office, he used that stardom to mostly make a series of sequels and basically the same movie with Burton over and over. Loyal to a fault.
While it's easy to pin the blame for this silly, generally inoffensive comedy on his sturdy shoulders, it's hardly his fault the film doesn't work. There are genuine chuckles, but the old fashioned tone and slapstick comedy is only endearing and quirky for the opening ten minutes or so; it soon becomes erratic and ultimately Mortdecai isn't sure what it is.
Koepp has written some superb films in his time (and directed the underrated Stir of Echoes) but he struggles to make this comedy gel. Despite a couple of laughs, the characters never quite work and Mortdecai is a only sporadically fun and even sometimes grating.
Depp has gangster flick Black Mass due later this year, which will hopefully eradicate the memory of this, because if you knocked $55 odd million off of the reported $60 million budget this is Russell Brand territory.