April 9, 2011
Review - " Arthur " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Jason Winer
Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig,
Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Luis Guzman, Nick
Nolte, Peter Van Wagner
Russell Brand has been known as the extremely eccentric
English funnyman who shrilly spouts silly lines. Basically,
the guy has been great in small doses (see “Forgetting
Sarah Marshall”), but his act has grown tiresome in leading
roles (see “Get Him to the Greek”).
“Arthur” will not be remembered for its sappy script or
unexceptional direction, but rather for being the film in
which Brand proved he had the chops to be an American
movie star. It’s the film that will leave people saying, “Maybe
there’s more to this guy than a goofy haircut and dirty
jokes, after all.”
Brand plays billionaire playboy Arthur Bach in the film,
based on the touching 1981 comedy classic that starred
Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli. Like the original, Arthur
drinks heavily and gets into all sorts of crazy shenanigans.
He’s essentially a child in the body of a 30-year-old — one
who loves dressing up like Batman, playing in the bathtub
and collecting famous pop culture motor vehicles.
All the while, Nanny Hobson (played wonderfully by Helen
Mirren) cleans up Arthur’s messes and tries to keep the boy
with the silver spoon on the straight and narrow. Mirren’s
performance is one of genuine fondness and kindness —
but only when her proper exterior lets it leak.
Arthur goes about his carefree ways until his distant,
business-obsessed mother (played by Geraldine James)
provides him with a wake-up call: He must marry composed CEO-in-waiting Susan (played by Jennifer Garner) or he will lose
his $950 million inheritance.
Arthur reluctantly rolls with the plan at first — out of fear of losing his fortune — even though he’s repulsed by Garner’s
straightlaced character. But fate throws a kink in Arthur’s plans when he meets Naomi (played by Greta Gerwig), a quirky,
blonde girl who gives unlicensed tours of Grand Central Station and has aspirations of writing a children’s book.
Madly in love, Arthur bails on the moolah and haphazardly attempts to work in the real world. But the pressures of his job, his
new lifestyle, his angry ex, his angry ex’s father and his bout with alcoholism all play into the possible end of his battle for
On the surface, playing a spoiled, womanizing oddball wouldn’t appear to be much of a stretch for Brand. After all, that’s
what he did in “Get Him to the Greek.” However, Brand plays the role of Arthur with effortless charm. He proves he can play
a gentleman, albeit, one who’s a little out there and has a lot of issues.
Despite superb performances from Brand and Mirren, nothing else really stands out about the movie. At times, the romantic
scenes become too ooey-gooey. In one scene in particular, Arthur falls for Naomi at the famous, supposedly magical
“Whispering Wall” at the
Grand Central Terminal.
Writer Peter Baynham crafted
Naomi as an unorthodox and
imaginative young woman, a
type that’s popular in Hollywood
right now. But Baynham didn’t
really provide a sufficient
reason for why she acts the
way she acts. It feels like that
lack of substance doesn’t leave
much for Gerwig to work with
throughout the film.
This remake doesn’t stray too
far from the spirit of the original,
but some of the whimsy is
missing. Skip this one and rent