Directed by: Jason Winer Cast: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: PG-13 Due Out: Arthur available on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download 7/15
PLOT: A billionaire (Brand) must decide between money or love when his mother threatens to cut him off from his inheritance should he not marry the woman (Garner) chosen for him.
WHO'S IT FOR?: Those who fell for the charm of Arthur circa. 1981 won’t see much of reason (if any) for this remake, but newcomers to the story will enjoy the sharp humor and slurry slapstick that also features Brand’s first likable performance.
MOVIE: Here’s a moment in our pop culture’s zombie obsession that actually makes a bit of sense. Probably more than ever before, our society truly believes in buzz-drunk love, (Knocked Up, for just one example) and it’s a hot concept for people that were once dead to strive for immortality by walking again. Even if it is thirty years later, and we’re in an age when movies about Wall Street don’t even make big business, a movie that treats money like magic like Arthur did should be an easy winner in our time.
Arthur exhumes the bones of the original movie, hoping to re-animate the charm of the original. Though the film is moderately funny, it’s only slightly less than half successful of attaining the same charm of the original. Here – the romance is insincere, and further indicative of how the quirkiness in romantic comedies has taken a wrong turn for the twee. For romantic gestures between Arthur and his true love, we get Spaghetti-O’s, children’s books, and even a wall in Grand Central Station. Sans “Anyone Else But You” by The Moldy Peaches as featured on the Juno soundtrack, Arthur starts to force itself into unoriginal lands to fit in awkwardly with indie comedies, or at least comedies that “look” “indie.”
Regrettably, the movie is then imbalanced with its mellow angles, pushing the film’s heart far to the other side of emotions. Packing in at least three, “Oh, Isn’t Everything So Sad” montages, Arthur kicks up the sadness in the third act. The film aggressively forces Russell Brand into a realm of sadness, of which he isn’t capable of doing. (Cate Blanchett should’ve come in a la I’m Not There and done this moment for him.) When he takes one of the montages to mope around, we start hoping it’ll just cut out, and he’l bust into a joke. Or trip. Or sh*t jellybeans like he did last week in Hop. Just anything! This sorrow sandwich turn drags the story beyond the amount its fit to be, and adds a brief surge to the longing to just rewatch the original.
All comparisons favoring the original are difficult to prove wrong – the more you stand 1981 Arthur to 2011 Arthur, the more that this version starts to look automatic and weak. Especially when considering the many special elements that make the original Arthur more than just a story of a lovable drunk: Dudley Moore’s contagious giggles and self-amusement, John Gielgud’s Oscar-winning performance, and even Christopher Cross’ heartfelt theme song, as written by Burt Bacharach. Yet Brand has a name for quick idiot comedy, and he truly shows it here, with sharp chemistry with the more immediately affable Helen Mirren. On top of that, no one else could give a fair shot at re-doing Dudley Moore even worth it like Brand, who was bound to play this role or a rip-off of this role sooner or later. For a remake of Arthur, a special kind of classic, it’s the best you can do.
MOVIE SCORE: 6/10
Gag Reel Additional Scenes (Over 10 minutes) Arthur Unsupervised!