A good friend of mine said that after viewing the trailers she hadn’t sensed any connection between Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp and as a result she wasn’t planning on seeing the flick.
That got me to thinking about these actors. And, ya know, of their movies I don’t really recall any roles in which I have ever felt the kind of inter-personal magnetism that you get when watching, for example, the sexually charged dining-car sequence between Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest. Jolie is not Saint, and Depp is not Grant. And, I’m not sure that either one of them has ever had a role for which that kind of connection was called for. Which is not a bad thing — there are tons of character actors who have never been asked to do that.
Surely there have been roles where Depp and Jolie both have fully occupied their characters. They are both skilled and extraordinary actors. Between the two of them there are a dozen or more performances that I would put way up there on the list of favorite characters. And sexual chemistry really isn’t the “thing” that would have made this movie any better. (being careful here not to give away plotline).
I do think it’s an odd sort of movie. For some strange reason, I found myself thinking about the 1992 farce Blame it on the Bellboy (I guess “farce” is the best description of the movie) featuring Dudley Moore, Bryan Brown, Patsy Kensit, and Bronson Pinchot. It too unraveled in Venice, it too involved frequent and multiple mistaken identities and it too had a happy ending — but there end the similarities. And why I should have been channeling that flick while watching this one is completely beyond me.
The premise that a random stranger is placed at jeopardy is a common enough plot line. The mistaken identity is singular after the manner of The Man with One Red Shoe as opposed to multiple as in the case of Blame it on the Bellboy — but without monkey-sex calls or bikini clad Carrie Fisher as in that movie. There ARE plenty of riffs on the mistaken identity theme, played more as a worn out joke when hapless guys are arrested or otherwise abused in the name of plot advancement. As in Red Shoe, the bumbling bureaucrats in pursuit of the man Depp is mistaken for play heavily in the movie — at times too heavily. And Timothy Dalton as senior bureaucrat came as a bit of a shock — I still remember him in his younger days. But it’s all good fun.
The plot is not really the excuse for the movie. The movie exists to showcase Jolie as a kickass, ballsier-than-Depp while simultaneously less seductive than your usual female spy; and Depp as an unsure Math teacher caught in a world he’s totally unprepared for dupe. It’s an odd casting. Jolie as hero, Depp as damsel in distress — sort of. Or at least so you think.
It’s fun, there are a few surprises, the scenery and camera work about Venice are wonderful and it’s a nice way to escape the troubles in your world for 100+ minutes. Go. Have fun. Accept it for what it is; not for what it doesn’t pretend to be.