The newest remake to hit theaters this week is a take on a Dudley Moore movie that was Oscar nominated, Arthur. In watching the Russell Brand-led film you’ll either want to watch the original or ignore it completely to wash the taste of this horrid film out of your mouth. Arthur is a trite, bland comedy with sitcom level humor and a hodgepodge story. The film never knows whether to be a comedy or a romance and both fall flat making the film feel like the longest hour and 50 minutes of a lifetime.
Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) is heir to a fortune, yet squanders it on alcohol and partying, much to the consternation of his nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren). When Arthur’s mother gets fed up with his ways she decides it’s time for her son to marry. Arthur ends up betrothed to the beautiful, but slightly psychotic, Susan (Jennifer Garner) at the same time that he falls in love with the poor Naomi (Greta Gerwig). Unfortunately, Arthur is given an ultimatum: Marry Susan or lose his inheritance which propels the young man to determine whether love or money is more powerful.
Arthur does have a few funny moments, their chuckles only but their present. Unfortunately you can save yourself the trouble and just watch the trailers because those are the funny moments. The film also tries to squeeze in a message about enjoying the free things in life, but it’s masked by all the other fun that can be had with a lot of money.
While the story is stupid and boring the actors try at least to make themselves fun. Brand is held back in this film but he tries to pay tribute to Dudley Moore and seems to be enjoying the character. His child-like innocence is sweet as well as his chemistry with Gerwig. Greta Gerwig continues to squander her talent in small roles but here she’s incredibly charming as the poor tour guide Naomi. The star though ends up being Helen Mirren as the put upon nanny Hobson! Mirren is the perfect mother figure and she is great as the commander of Arthur’s life. Oddly enough Jennifer Garner is also strong as the bitchy Susan, a role she should continue to play because she apparently has lost all her range.
Sadly, Arthur is a long-winded sitcom that doesn’t know where the hell to go. The jokes are all in the trailers and anything else is just meant to be funny because of Arthur’s stupidity. I don’t even remember any of the jokes in the film, emphasizing how stock and pointless they are. The film is a lot of things but mainly it’s a romance, by the middle the whole comedic element of Arthur’s life is dumped in favor of having him choose between two women. To my knowledge the original film openly discussed Arthur’s drinking and showed how sad his life was since he was a drunk, here that element is thrown away by showing how much fun Arthur is while drunk! No one ever mentions Arthur has a problem and aside from a 30 second scene where he makes fun of Alcoholics Anonymous he doesn’t even deal with the problem on-screen, instead you learn he’s sober through a “six months later” scene tacked on to the very end. There are no consequences to his actions and you never feel for him because of how much humor and frivolity is associated to his problem. As if that wasn’t enough at the halfway point a major character is killed with a mysterious, unnamed illness before dying quickly after. It makes it seem like the movie is so desperate on finding a way to end that killing this character is the only way to make you give a crap about Arthur. The film tries to show a message of money can’t buy happiness but instead that’s all thrown in at the very end, in a flash forward that heavily feels like the effect of reshoots.
In the end Arthur is a boring mess that goes on forever before dying along with the major character. You never feel for Arthur, aside from thinking he’s a typical celebutante, and it’s hard to understand how the hell Naomi doesn’t know who Arthur is considering he’s supposedly the Paris Hilton of New York. Stick to the original and leave this sloppy mess behind.