It makes my heart a little happy that Tubi is leaning in on being the National Enquirer of streaming TV, literally racing this starnge Rashomon take on the very recent Depp vs. Heard trial. This is absolute junk food television that I have devoured every single overly sugary bite of.
The 70s and 80s were a magical time when pre-multi streaming channel and internet and social media we waited for TV movies to deliver the proper take on a public scandal. That’s why this film made me so happy, as it continues this sleazy tradition.
Mark Hapka is Depp and he may look more like Mark-Paul Gosselaar than who he is supposed to be, but he also has the benefit of Johnny’s weird drawl and young Steven Tyle sartorial choices. Not that Megan Davis is a dead ringer for Amber Heard either, but the film really is wild because of how it lets them break the fourth wall and speak directly to us, the audience, who need to know the truth even though we’ve already made up our minds and probably realize that this is all bread and circuses meant to distract us from the fact that our planet has about five good years left.
There’s a long limo scene here where Rob, Depp’s security guard and lifesaver, brings him a tuna fish and corn sandwich, a meal that reminds the man who was once and will be again Jack Sparrow of the only good parts of his childhood. Rob is a magical figure who Depp gives an island to. He is also not a real person but someone made for this movie, so I want a sequel where Rob benevolently rules over his island only to have Johnny come and want it back.
Director Sarah Lohman has mostly worked in shorts and episodic TV while writer Guy Nicolucci has written for Conan O’Brien, Comedy Central’s roasts and The Daily Show. That should give you an idea of the direction of this, as it cuts to influencers and vloggers their feelings on the trial, creating a Greek chorus of the public reactions to this event.
Yes, a finger is cut off. Yes, a bed is shat upon. No, it’s not as bad as it could be. I love reading people saying, “Why does this exist” and “No one wants this,” yet they make the effort to post about it. Yes, plenty of people are going to watch this even if they won’t admit it. That’s why they call it exploitation.
You can watch this on Tubi.