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"A Kind of Cockamamie Sincerity"

Last weekend, I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Afterwards, my kids asked me what I thought of Johnny Depp as "Captain Sparrow." I said that I had no idea what he was doing, and yet whatever it was, I couldn't stop watching it. Roger Ebert was somewhat more eloquent than me in his review:

And yet the movie made me grin at times, and savor the daffy plot, and enjoy the way Depp and [Geoffrey] Rush fearlessly provide performances that seem nourished by deep wells of nuttiness. Depp in particular seems to be channeling a drunken drag queen, with his eyeliner and the way he minces ashore and slurs his dialogue ever so insouciantly. Don't mistake me: This is not a criticism, but admiration for his work. It can be said that his performance is original in its every atom. There has never been a pirate, or for that matter a human being, like this in any other movie. There's some talk about how he got too much sun while he was stranded on that island, but his behavior shows a lifetime of rehearsal. He is a peacock in full display.

Consider how boring it would have been if Depp had played the role straight, as an Errol Flynn or Douglas Fairbanks (Sr. or Jr.) might have. To take this material seriously would make it unbearable. Capt. Sparrow's behavior is so rococo that other members of the cast actually comment on it. And yet because it is consistent and because you can never catch Depp making fun of the character, it rises to a kind of cockamamie sincerity.

Another reviewer wrote that Depp seemed like someone who had ridden too many roller coasters, which sounds about right.

If, six months ago, you had asked me about the prospects for a movie based on a theme park ride, I would have laughed. But Pirates works and was great fun, if 20 minutes too long.

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» Pirates of the Carribean from a little ludwig goes a long way
Frank nails it -- pseudorandom: "A Kind of Cockamamie Sincerity" -- we couldn't stop watching Johnny Depp. Some of us have seen the movie twice now. I want to see all the rest of Johnny's work now. Pirates may not... [Read More]

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