Ridiculous remake pleases younger generation
April 18, 2011 —
A drunk and whimsical playboy must choose between his family’s millions and the woman he loves.
Russell Brand stars in the title role as Arthur in this Jason Winer remake of the 1981 comedy classic. Arthur’s carefree, hedonistic lifestyle frequents newspaper headlines and threatens his family’s legacy. Convinced of Arthur’s incompetence, his authoritarian mother arranges his marriage to Susan (Jennifer Garner), the ambitious and commanding daughter of a selfmade Pittsburgh tycoon played by Nick Nolte.
Garner plays a particularly ruthless and overbearing Susan Johnson. Determined to overcome the stigmatization of being new money rich, she wants Arthur to know that she wants to marry him for his old money, name and coat of arms.
At the threat of being cut off from the family fortune, Arthur begrudgingly agrees to marry Susan. Discontent with the prospect of a loveless marriage, he drowns his sorrows with liquor and finds outlandish foolery to distract him from his problems. Likewise, many of his stunts and gags have little connection to the main storyline and often distract the audience from the main plot.
True love could change everything for Arthur when he discovers Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a poor unlicensed New York tour guide. Naomi and Arthur begin a relationship that follows the predictable and sentimental romantic comedy formula: boy meets girl, boy looses girl, and boy wins her back.
Arthur must sober up and become his own man to earn his way into Noami’s heart and reclaim his fortune. With the support of his reluctant chauffer Bitterman, played by Louis Guzman, Arthur joins AA and tries to find employment in order to make a change from his life of indecency and excess.
The themes of the movie are familiar: Money can’t buy happiness. Hard work and accountability are what separate responsible, real grownups from adult children. The remake casts the same messages as the original.
Fans of the 1981 feature may find characters in this latest release to be miscast. However, Brand’s enthusiasm and flair for the ridiculous make this Arthur a more appealing film for today’s filmgoers. Brand’s performance is more lighthearted and absurd than Dudley Moore’s “Arthur” of 1981.
The plot of the new “Arthur” stays true to the original with little improvement. Brand’s performance may remind moviegoers of his other onscreen misadventures in such films as “Get Him to the Greek.” However, Helen Mirren’s role is quite different from her previous onscreen performances and helps to carry the show.
Mirren delivers the best performance of the film as Hobson, devoted and sarcastic nanny to Arthur. Mirren’s comic timing is as authentic as her dramatic performance in the later part of the film. Her character is written quite similarly to the Hobson of the the 1981 feature played by John Gielgud. Fans of the original will recognize many borrowed lines and scenes. Interestingly, this is the second time Mirren acted in a reprise of a male role, her first being Prospera in Julie Taymor’s “The Temptest.”
This remake can be a fun afternoon distraction or decent date movie. Audiences are sure to find laugh-out-loud moments, but the film struggles to establish itself as a memorable spring release. Moviegoers are unlikely to see this film more than once, and many are likely to wait for the DVD release.