Much less adorable and a tad less lovable is Russell Brand’s Arthur in this rather unnecessary remake
Published: April 13, 2011
Directed by Jason Winer
Dudley Moore was lovable as the titular drunken heir to a fortune in director Steve Gordon’s 1981 Arthur where, of course, he had the delightful Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud—who won an Oscar for playing his butler Hobson—along for the humorous ride. Much less adorable and a tad less lovable is Russell Brand’s Arthur in this rather unnecessary remake by director Jason Winer: Brand’s vodka-fueled stumbling is a little less funny, his Maker’s Mark haze a tad disturbing. Maybe that’s the point: In 2011 no one smokes, not even in their penthouse—perhaps the only place a billionaire can still light up.
The fantastic Helen Mirren plays Arthur’s nanny Hobson, a mothering yet stern figure who doesn’t laugh at his drinky mess, but still loves him even though he doesn’t do anything worthwhile. Arthur’s mother is just plain over him drinking away his time and wealth, so she threatens to disown him if he doesn’t marry the rich and uptight but business-savvy Susan (Jennifer Garner, doing her saucy best to distract us from her dimples). He, of course, falls for the genuinely nice Naomi (Greta Gerwig, outfitted in Chloë Sevigny’s closet) instead and must make a real decision in his life, perhaps the first one.
The drunken antics of a boy child so rich he owns a fleet of movie cars—Batmobile, the Mystery Machine, Back to the Future’s DeLorean (which inexplicably got cheers from the audience)—yet lives such an empty life that his only friends appear to be his beloved nanny and his chauffeur Bitterman (Luis Guzmán) feels tired. And this is the third time Brand has played out his own recovery onscreen. And, yes, it’s sad when Naomi looks sideways when Arthur pulls out the flask on what’s otherwise a lovely little date and when Hobson talks him into going to an AA meeting, but come on: 1981’s Arthur laughed his ass off a million times in the movie, while 2011’s Arthur is having less of a good time.
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