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Recliner Reviews | Call the mortician on ‘Mortdecai’ but give ‘Eleanor Rigby’ a watch

Johnny Depp stars as Charlie Mortdecai in “Mortdecai.”
Johnny Depp stars as Charlie Mortdecai in “Mortdecai.” TNS

“Mortdecai”

It would seem hard to screw this one up. Johnny Depp plays a quirky character trotting the globe in search of stolen art. There’s a primo cast supporting him – Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, Paul Bettany and Olivia Munn. A quality director was hired in David Koepp (“Premium Rush”) to give the film a fast-paced Pink Panther vibe.

But everything misses.

Depp’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it, and he has no chemistry with Paltrow. As for the rest of the cast, none of their strengths are tapped. Koepp slogs the actors through scene after scene of forced oddballness. After a while, the actors and the audience just quit caring.

Call the mortician on “Mortdecai” and pass.

“Hot Tub Time Machine 2”

This seems like an odd film for a sequel. But here it is five years after the original and minus leading actor John Cusack.

Guess what? It’s a better movie for it.

Aside from Cusack, the core cast returns – Rob Corddry, Craig Robinson and Clark Duke. They add Adam Scott to balance out the straight-man ratio. Chevy Chase drops in for another cameo.

Then, they just pile loads of raunchy jokes into a time travel context like a flux capacitor that’s in need of a good flushing. Director Steve Pink takes another dip too, and this time, he leads the guys into the future to solve a mystery that could change their lives.

It’s totally silly. Corddry and Robinson own this type of material. They’ll make you laugh, even when you don’t want to. If you like it dirty, jump in, because it’s barely worth a watch.

“The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”

You really have to give it up for the ambitiousness of writer/director Ned Benson’s first feature film. We should say films, because it actually has three available versions – “Him,” “Her” and “Them.” It deals with a couple breaking up and trying to put their lives back together, so each version is edited to display the story from her side or his side or a messy mixture of both.

The “him” in question is given life by a likable yet forlorn James McAvoy, and a vibrant yet confounding Jessica Chastain takes on the “her.” In a stroke of casting genius, their confidants are played like drums by Bill Hader and Viola Davis.

In all of these movie moments, there’s plenty of drama and some romance and a couple of laughs. Benson didn’t fundamentally change moviemaking, but he certainly tried. We recommend you start with “Him,” then move to Her,” and end up with “Them” in the end – worth a watch.

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