Opening in Las Vegas, January 23, 2015


The usual January crap-fest continues this week, with special focus on the continuing decline of Johnny Depp.

And I’ll start with what looks like Depp’s third flop in a row, Mortdecai (27), in which the actor plays a role in homage to Peter Sellers and Terry-Thomas. Millennials give a collective, “Who?” Elizabeth Weitzman: “Johnny Depp has done so much for us. Let us now return the favor and pretend Mortdecai, a disastrously misjudged career low, never existed.”

Speaking of stars making bad movies, has Jennifer Lopez made a good movie since Out of Sight? Her latest misfire is The Boy Next Door (31), in which Lopez is now old enough to play a MILF. Marc Mohan: “It’s a thriller, if the term can be applied to an inept, perfunctory movie with more laughs than thrills — and it only has a couple laughs. Let’s call it an attempted thriller and an inadvertent comedy.”

Believe it or not, these two films are not the worst-reviewed of the week. Strange Magic (25) receives that dubious honor, Lou Lumenick: “A jaw-droppingly terrible animated musical that mismatches George Lucas’ inane story about a pair of fairy princesses to an oddball selection of the “Star Wars’’ creator’s favorite pop tunes.”

For those who don’t like this garbage, there’s always Cake (49), the movie that Jennifer Aniston used to try to get an Oscar. It’s about a woman in a chronic-pain support group, which sounds like a lot of fun. Kyle Smith: “Gunning for the near-annual Ugly Makeup Oscar, Aniston proves, as always, a modestly gifted actress, only this time with scars and weedy hair.”

Finally, there’s Manny (35), a documentary about boxer/politician Manny Pacquiao.


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

5 responses »

  1. Mortdecai is going to clear about a million bucks today. Should the next Pirates and Alice in Wonderland 2 disappoint, he’s in big trouble in terms of being a viable lead in studio pictures. However, being forced into indies and supporting roles is probably the best possible thing for him.

    And shouldn’t Ewan McGregor be toplining a Criminal Minds spinoff by now? Man is like a cockroach.

  2. Going by the trailer, I reckon Depp is going more for Terry-Thomas than Sellers. Not a bad idea, but having seen many of the Terry-Thomas, Sellers films from that era, they have a film style that is totally alien to what standard filmmaking is these days (as that trailer hints at) so I can see why it’s misfied. Still, can’t deny I’m rather curious to see it.

    As for McGregor, apart from the occasional film his 15 years or so in Hollywood have been a real waste of his talents.

  3. Of course, but Terry-Thomas’ persona in UK films of the 50s/60s is an upper-class, vaguely slimy buffoon usually in a position of authority he doesn’t deserve (his role in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” was only somewhat similar). He was very funny in those roles but those British films often had a subtle, light touch and this trailer looks the opposite (as is the modern way).

    I reckon the real similarity with Sellers is that he tended to be more big-budget, bombastic type comedies (that this seems like) once he became a name in America, of which The Pink Panther films increasingly became (but still funny).

  4. I got around to seeing Mortdecai and regrettably it’s as bad as its critical rep suggested. The real pity is that the elements were there for an entertaining light-hearted amusing caper/mystery film.

    But (as I’ve mentioned regularly on here over the years) comedy seems to be the genre that has declined the most in Hollywood mainstream filmmaking over the past few decades and this is a prime example. Witless and inept throughout with a boring plot and even more boring action scenes and even more boring villain. And it seemed to have post-production problems as the likes of Jeff Goldblum are presumably supposed to have pivotal roles in it and have only a couple of minutes screentime.

    The strangest thing about the film is that is a very uncomfortable mix of high-brow discussion and plot about artworks and then the majority of gags are crude low-brow stuff about vomiting, flatulence etc… No wonder it failed to find an audience.

    Depp got most of the blame for this fiasco but I think with a better script and production his character could’ve worked (he does have one funny bit at the end). Blame should go to director David Koepp who with this and being the writer of Inferno has given me a lot of tedium in recent weeks.

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