Like any human, I saw the posters for “Mortdecai,” rose from my seat, and sprinted into a wall. What was this damn thing? Johnny Depp and cronies Gwyneth Paltrow, Ewan McGregor, and Olivia Munn wore silly mustaches and expected to seem, I guess, irreverent and wacky. Instead they looked like they were starring in a movie adapted from a Pringles can, and the world frowned.
“Mortdecai” also underlined the fact that Johnny Depp's presence as a Hollywood titan has been transformed and warped in the past decade. He got a taste of that Jack Sparrow hokum dollar and never looked back. Or if he did look back, he did it with a woozy Keith Richards glance that makes everyone with brain cells roll their eyes.
Let's make Johnny Depp cool again. Here are six ways he could regain some of the “it” factor that kept him seeming bad-ass for the first decade and a half of his career.
1. Work with another auteur besides Tim Burton.
With the exception of the “Pirates” movies and “The Lone Ranger,” Johnny Depp has reserved almost all of his quirkiness for that candy-colored warlord Tim Burton. Where is our Paul Thomas Anderson/Johnny Depp movie? Our Scorsese/Depp feature? Depp's pop culture presence seems grating now because his film choices have tricked us into believing he's just a winking scarecrow with a twisted cane. If he worked with another auteur, we'd be immediately reminded of his talents as an actual, non-straw actor with Oscar-worthy abilities.
2. Play a real person.
For whatever reason, Johnny Depp hates real-seeming characters. He would prefer to make a cameo in “Into the Woods” as a spindly italicized popinjay wolf than portray a person. We did get “The Rum Diary” out of him, but that was another senseless, whizzbang caper in the vein of “Mortdecai” — and Hunter S. Thompson would definitely hate “Mortdecai.” Where's the humanity, JD? Humanity that isn't coated with insincere snickers and saucy eyebrow jolting, I mean? Hmm? Fortunately, it seems like he agrees with this plan: He'll be portraying convicted Boston crime boss Whitey Bulger in Scott Cooper's upcoming film “Black Mass.” It could be another tepid “Public Enemies,” but I'm hoping for the best/un-worst.
3. Write a book
Did you know Johnny Depp bought a book imprint with Harper? He did. He wants to preserve the form of physical books. That's lovely! Here's a thought: Release a memoir about all this damn time you've spent making blockbuster movies. We're running out of great celebrity memoirs, people. The last one I loved was Diane Keaton's. With Depp opening up on a published page, we can be reminded that he has a soul in addition to his 500,000 pashminas.
4. Make “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.”
This is a controversial option, but I really think we could come around to enjoying Depp's vision of Willy Wonka if he got to play the part in an adaptation of Roald Dahl's weirdo sequel “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.” That's the one where Charlie and his grandparents visit “Minusland” and Grandma Georgina turns 358 years old in one freakish scene. Truly bizarre. Since Depp's portrayal of Willy Wonka was more unhinged (and less pleasantly droll than Gene Wilder's), this movie is actually a safer fit for him. While it's true that Roald Dahl hated when his books were adapted, it should also be known that Roald Dahl was an asinine, shamelessly bigoted loser.
Thanks. CC Jared Leto, who looks like Princess Vespa's stunt double.
6. Get back together with Winona Ryder.
Can. You. Imagine. Not only would a romance with Winona Ryder revive the wonderfulness that is Winona Ryder (who definitely deserves a resurgence), it would remind us of Johnny Depp's time as a towering and cool pop culture presence. This could also mean that Depp would put the “N” and “A” back on his doctored “WINO” tattoo. If you are not fanning yourself at the potential of this greatness, you are not the “Edward Scissorhands” fan this world needs right now.