Given that this film is based on a book titled “Don’t point that thing at me”, you won’t be too surprised to learn that the film adaptation aims to be a farce in the classic sense of the word. The result is a spectacular mess, and the only real shock comes from the number of A-List talent involved on both sides of the camera.

Self-confessed “rogue” Charlie Mortedcai (Johnny Depp) is down to his last few millions and is in trouble with the tax man. He’s also in his wife’s bad books for growing a moustache in a desperate attempt to live up to his family name. Aided by his ever-reliable driver Jock (Paul Bettany), Mortdecai sets off on a string of improbable adventures to bail himself out of financial ruin. MI5, headed by agent of the crown Martland (Ewan McGregor), want to foil a potential art fraud and forcibly enlist the charming bounder. Martland and Mortdecai are already familiar with one another, having once fought over Johanna (Gwyneth Paltrow). Then throw in some angry Russians, a veracious American nymphomaniac (Olivia Munn) and some Nazi Gold, just for good measure.

All the elements are in place for a classic, risque comedy. The cast have all proven to be adept at comedy, director David Koepp has written some extraordinary scripts in the past and there is the hilarious facial hair on display. A lot of the screen time is taken up talking about that thing on Johnny Depp’s face, and the best use of it is in seeing Paltrow instantly gag after kissing it. It’s one of only two successful gags in an otherwise awful film. There is a sequence later on, where Mortdecai, who has been proudly showing off his unique facial hair quirkiness up until this point, gets in a lift in L.A. He is gradually joined by a number of hipsters, all displaying the typical beards and moustaches of this peculiar sub-species… and Mortdecai has instant beard envy.

That’s it. That’s the best gag in the film, and there is absolutely nothing else of note apart from some wonderful actors wasting their time in such risible tosh – a list Johnny Depp would be lucky to get on, as he’s been coasting to this nadir ever since the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. It’s an act that isn’t just stale now, it’s cringeworthy. He appears to be able to turn up and play any character he wants as long as it is stuffed with exaggerated quirks and over-the-top mannerisms to mask a distinct lack of effort on his part. Paltrow and McGregor give all they have in supporting roles, while Paul Bettany has almost nothing to work with. This is especially true as he spends most of his screen time opposite Depp, who is “not quite there”. We won’t even mention the misjudged cameo by an actor who should know much better.

If this is a throw back to anything, then it is not the Ealing comedies it aims for. This is “On the Buses” or latter “Carry On…” films. Maybe we just can’t stomach films like this any more. The equally terrible ‘Gambit’ remake, starring Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz, instantly springs to mind when thinking back to something equally as resentful. That too aimed for farce, and that too failed in every way imaginable. The books are part of a trilogy, but if there is another film made in this series I will eat my own moustache.