The Flick Chicks

Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Arthur

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2_Chicks_Small Judy Thorburn

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Arthur

I am not a fan of Russell Brand. His “brand” of humor rubs me the wrong way.  I find him obnoxious, irritating, and I don't quite get his appeal. That doesn't mean he can't redeem himself in my eyes. There are a few other comic actors who I didn't originally like but eventually got me to reverse my opinion after seeing more of there work. Unfortunately, Brand's performance as Arthur, doesn't offer me any reason to change my mind about the British born comic actor. As far as I am concerned, Brand continues to be a one trick pony.

In this reimagined version of the classic 1981 comedy, Russell Brand takes over the titled role originated by Dudley Moore. Arthur Bach (Brand) is a 30 something, childlike billionaire with an obsession for booze, random women and expensive toys such as a collection of movie cars including the Batmobile and the DeLorean from Back To The Future.

When we meet Arthur he is living the life of luxury in a spacious Manhattan apartment that he shares with his lifelong nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren, stepping into Sir John Geilgud's Oscar winning role, which originally was a butler) when not chauffered around by Bitterman (Luis Guzmán). Arthur's powerful, corporate Mom, Vivienne (Geraldine James, a Vanessa Redgrave lookalike) who runs Bach Worldwide, was never the maternal type. Widowed when Arthur was a child, she left the job of raising and nurturing her son to Hobson, Arthur's best (actually only) friend in the world, until the scheming mommy dearest decides it is time for Arthur to put an end to his embarrassing, reckless behavior, grow up and accept responsibilities that go along with being an heir to a vast fortune. Vivienne gives Arthur an ultimatum. Marry Susan (Jennifer Garner, doing the best she can with this thankless role) the beautiful, but power hungry daughter of a rich developer, (an old, overweight Nick Nolte) or be cut off from the limitless wealth he is accustomed to. Arthur reluctantly agrees to go along with the plan until he sets his eyes on and falls for Naomi (Greta Gerwig) an illegal tour guide and aspiring children's book writer from Queens that he bumps into at Grand Central Station and, as fate would have it, shares childlike qualities and a similar interest in old cartoons.

I can't help but compare this new, updated version of Arthur with the original screwball comedy written and directed by Steve Gordon. Like most of the growing list of remakes, this one is NOT new and improved. To begin with, Arthur lacks the charm of the original. Instead of Dudley Moore's perpetually inebriated, yet lovable fellow who gets to parade around in a top hat and tales, we get an irritating, unlikeable, drunk in top hat and tales, that I couldn't care less about. Come to think of it, this role is similar to every other character Brand has inhabited. Maybe, truth be told, he is just playing himself on screen. His real life, bad boy behavior is no secret and is well known to the public. Secondly, indie actress Greta Gerwig (last seen in Greenberg opposite Ben Stiller) is miscast as the object of Arthur's affection. Gerwig is bland at best, and lacks the kooky charisma as portrayed by Liza Minella who had great chemistry with the diminutive Moore.

There are a few funny scenes at the beginning, but thereafter, the film, with a weak script by Peter Baynham (Bruno, Borat) progresses into a silly, contrived mess that gets an occasional boost when the always terrific Mirren appears on screen.

By, the way, I don't know if I am the only one who caught it, but in one brief scene when Arthur is checking his cell phone, Katy Perry's (Brand's wife) name comes up for a nano second. If you blink you will surely miss it.

That said, only avid fans of Russell Brand will find this flick amusing. For the rest of us who don't like (that is an understatement) the comic actor, Arthur, whether in a drunk or sober state, is barely tolerable.