Archives for posts with tag: johnny depp

People didn’t like Into the Woods, and I think I mostly agree with them. Part of this is that Stephen Sondheim isn’t my favorite (I know, I know, you’re definitely supposed to, but I just don’t really get it). But most of it is the Disneyfication. The original musical is unapologetically grown-up. Taking that away does violence to the coherence of the story, and the lame, winking attempts to minimize the problem don’t succeed.

The charm of the show is the interlocking stories:

  • Cinderella (Anna Kendrick) wants to go to the ball to meet the Prince (Chris Pine). I find Kendrick hard to root for, which was a problem, but Pine was enjoyably cheesy as the “charming but not sincere” royal.  Christine Baranski and Lucy Punch are entirely wasted as step-mother and a step-sister (Punch reprising a rôle she played in Ella Enchanted).
  • Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford) meets a wolf (Johnny Depp) in the woods. Crawford’s affect was almost unbelievably flat; Depp was atrocious in what I think was a (gratefully) curtailed version of the creepy sex-offender Mr. Wolf.
  • Rapunzel (Mackenzie Mauzy) lives in a tower, also has an attendant Prince (Billy Magnussen). Both very good-looking, their love-story is probably the most appealing.
  • Jack (Daniel Huttlestone, yes, Gavroche) sells his cow for giant-beanstalk-growing magic beans. He needs a different haircut. Tracey Ullman is great as his mom, obviously.
  • A baker (James Corden) and his wife (Emily Blunt) want a child. They play off each other well, and can both really sing.
  • A witch (Meryl Streep) has put a curse on the baker’s family, and they need to collect something from each of the four first-mentioned characters to break it. She’s Meryl, but with bluer hair.

So it’s mostly fine, but not great. The cinematography does all of that sweeping fake Disney forest nonsense, which is unnecessary and bad. There’s a blue filter most of the time, which is at odds with the general kiddification. The costumes are mostly all right except that everyone wears to the ball a dress with a mullet hemline, which looks really stupid.

I recommend just getting the Bernadette Peters one.

Stray observations:

  • James Corden’s impatience with Red is the best comic moment in the film.
  • Cinderella’s dress looks unfinished, and she wears the same one all three nights. Also the shoes are ugly! No good, guys.
  • Her birds, too, are pretty creepy. You can’t use crow-like birds to be Cinderella’s cute sidekicks, because crows are ominous and scary.

Director: Rob Marshall
Rating: PG
Length: 125 minutes
Score: 3/5

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I remember kind of wanting to see Mortdecai when it came out, because I figured there was no chance it was as bad as everyone seemed to think. But, while I’m not sure it’s as bad as everyone thinks, it is pretty bad.

Mortdecai (Johnny Depp) is a dopey upper-class art thief, probably. But he’s in debt, so he and his valet/bodyguard (Paul Bettany) end up being strong-armed into recovering a lost Goya painting to thwart terrorism. That doesn’t make sense, no, but nevertheless this is what we are given. Mortdecai’s wife Joanna (Gwyneth Paltrow) hates his new mustache, his MI-5 contact (Ewan McGregor) loves Joanna, an American (Jeff Goldblum) wants to buy Mortdecai’s Rolls-Royce, and his nymphomaniac daughter (Olivia Munn) is in cahoots with the painting-stealing terrorist. Also there are Russians. And schemes.

It’s really not very good. The plot doesn’t hang together (in a careless way, not a humorously madcap way), Johnny Depp is exhausted- and exhaustingly mincing, and the movie relies far too heavily on your finding him charming. Joanna’s fine (her clothes are delightful; few people can wear jodhpurs as well as Gwyneth Paltrow), and Ewan McGregor is actually engagingly uptight and useless, but he isn’t given enough to do. The only real enjoyment is Paul Bettany playing completely against type as a scarred, womanizing tough guy with a staunchly working-class accent. He’s surprisingly good at it, and his doglike devotion to Mortdecai gets a bigger laugh every time he declares it a pleasure to be wounded in his master’s service.

That’s it, though.

Director: David Koepp
Rating: R
Length: 107 minutes
Score: 2/5

It’s hard to remember how great this movie is, because the sequels were so catastrophic. I’m completist when it comes to DVD collections, but I own only Curse of the Black Pearl and Dead Man’s Chest. Likewise I will never ever own The Phantom Menace. If I ever get it as a gift I will use it as a coaster.

The only thing about this movie that doesn’t hold up is the animation. The zombie-pirates look a little goofy now, in a way that they didn’t when it came out.

What do I love about it?

  • It never stops. Even when you think you’re going have a slow, serious moment, right after the Interceptor explodes, Orlando Bloom immediately swims across to disabuse you of your misapprehension. This is a movie written by hummingbirds on speed, and it is fantastic.
  • We’re sick of Johnny Depp’s mincing weirdness now, but it’s new in this, and it’s well-deployed and hilarious. If you don’t still cry with laughter about the whole “why is the rum gone?” sequence, you have no joy in your soul. There’ll be no living with her after this, indeed.
  • Orlando Bloom is still super hot, and his air of bewildered self-righteousness is, as always, his best asset. He even gives some good side-eye a few times. And that hat!
  • Norrington really comes into his own in the third movie, with his drunkenness, his hopeless but blameless love of Elizabeth, and his badassery in the face of Davy Jones’s crew. That said, Jack Davenport puts a surprising amount of exasperated verve into a pretty one-note character, and Norrington’s tedium is itself a lesson in drollery. [Side note: I was trying to explain who Jack Davenport is, and began with “He plays Commodore Norrington.” At that point I was cut off by my interlocutor, who started shouting at me that he did not watch as many movies about old boats as I do, because he is a normal human being, and I had to finish, somewhat lamely, “…in Pirates of the Caribbean.” At which point my friend subsided in embarrassment.]
  • Almost all the jokes land. Pintel and Ragetti are amazing (Mackenzie Crook never fails), Royal Navy officers are convincingly stuffy for comic effect, and Geoffrey Rush perfectly walks the tightrope between menace and hilarity. The corset line crashes and burns every time, but, for nearly two and a half hours, the laughs keep coming.

Director: Gore Verbinski
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes
Score: 4/5