- RatedNC16 /GenreAction, Adventure, Comedy
Dear Johnny Depp,
What happened to you?
But, oh, congratulations on tying the knot with Amber (Heard).
At least the flop that was ‘The Rum Diaries’ brought something good to your life.
So what happened, man?
'Cry-Baby': One of Depp's rare movies without any makeup on
You were the stuff of dreams back in the day (emphasis on "were").
The dreamy TV star (the original '21 Jump Street' for the millennials reading this) that went on to be one of Hollywood’s most-sought-after leading man.
And you weren’t just the run-of-the-mill hunks that the Hollywood factory churned out either. You had that mysterious, left-field aura that was somehow alluring.
And you had a taste for offbeat projects such as ‘Cry-Baby’, ‘Edward Scissorhands’, ‘What’s Eating Gilbert Grape’, ‘Donnie Brasco’ and ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’.
You put the "artist" in artiste.
But of course, choice projects that are not exactly mainstream blockbusters doesn’t pay the bills, so you just had to be Captain Jack Sparrow.
Somehow, something changed after that. Yes, everyone loved your perpetually drunk pirate captain whom you said was modelled after rocker Keith Richards, and you helped to rake in US$3.83 billion (S$5.2 billion) for the House of Mouse.
But since that movie franchise took off, you have become a sort of one-trick pony who resorts to oddball shtick instead of, you know, doing what you should be doing: act.
Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow (left) in 'Pirates of the Caribbean' and Tonto in 'The Lone Ranger'
You and your friend Jerry Bruckheimer used the same trick again for ‘The Lone Ranger’ (2013). Your Tonto is just Jack Sparrow with a dead bird on his head.
It is getting tiresome.
Your latest movie ‘Mortdecai’ is a laugh, and not the way you expect. You have lost your mojo.
That art-heist caper movie has been rolling in a pit of negative reviews and has so far earned just slightly more than US$18 million worldwide (it cost US$60 million to make).
Bravo. You’ve made another flop; and that makes three. ‘The Lone Ranger’, ‘Trancendence’ and now ‘Mortdecai’. Three strikes and you’re out, they say.
Do you know what’s wrong with ‘Mortdecai’, Johnny?
Besides its hard-to-pronounce name, you seem to have taken bits from your previous movies to conjure up this rakish moustachioed character.
Any self-respecting cine-phile can spot bits of Edward Scissorhands, Gilbert Grape, Ichabod Crane and Jack Sparrow in your Charlie Mortdecai. It looked like you dialled in your performance and your prosthetic moustache has more life than you.
We see that you have followed in the footsteps of other erstwhile bankable actors such as Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Kevin Costner and Nicholas Cage.
But you’re Johnny Depp.
Yes, you don’t really care, right? You’re just doing your “thing”.
As your co-star Paul Bettany said of you: “He’s a whale swimming through the ocean, and a whale doesn’t notice the barnacles on him. He’s like... I’m swimming through the ocean, doing my thing.”
At least you’re popular elsewhere.
Your 2012 fantasy ‘Dark Shadows’ might have disappointed at home with US$79 million but it took in more than double that number internationally, helping the film gross US$246 million in total.
‘Public Enemies’ (2009) was good, as was ‘Chocolat’ (2000) and ‘From Hell’ (1999). In these, you were not some outlandish character with facial tics.
Please stop buying into your own hype.
As a longtime fan of yours, watching you on the big screen now is just heartbreaking. And I am bracing for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’ and 'Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass’.
We just hope that your other movie, ‘Black Mass’ (also starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Dakota Johnson), will give your floundering career a lift. Oh, but wait. You are wearing a wig and bald cap there and they say you look like you are channelling Jack Nicholson in that role.
Maybe there is a regular spot for you on TV's 'Saturday Night Live' instead, if comedy and mimicry is your "thing" now.
‘Mortdecai’ is showing in cinemas (if you really have to see it)
Zaki Jufri writes about the arts, entertainment, film and other forms of popular – and unpopular – culture for inSing.com