Arthur is well-executed tomfoolery slapped on top of sentimental predictability. But it could have been a lot worse.
There are few things more desperate sounding than an already average '80s comedy given a saucing up by Russell Brand’s cheeky grin and treacle witticisms. Especially in these times of penny-pinching, sack-wearing and library burnings, a film based on a young, billionaire, work-shite playboy, is a difficult plot with which to generate a great deal of sympathy.
And yet this remake of 1981's Arthur is surprisingly entertaining and, in ditching the penchant for prostitutes and bonkers laughter, it is in many places a great deal more effective than the original.
Arthur’s (Brand) notoriously riotous behaviour scares off shareholders from his family’s gargantuan fortune. As a result, his mother (Geraldine James) offered the choice of marrying the well-regarded Susan (Jennifer Garner) and keeping the fortune, or saying good bye to his wads of cash. His dilemma is thrown a further complication when he has a chance meeting with the quirksome Naomi (Greta Gerwig).
Having found his soul mate and muse, he is willing to give up a life of alcohol-fuelled fun for honest labour, occasional fun and love. His nemesis sent to thwart Arthur’s happiness is his own mother, with who he has a comically distant relationship. Instead, motherly duties have fallen to his ever faithful nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren).
Part of Arthur’s charm is the ease with which Russell Brand embraces the role; it’s certainly the most comfortable film he’s appeared on the big screen. His manner and dialogue suggests he’s been given a rare freedom to decorate the part with his own personality and idiosyncrasies that has made him a loveable (though equally detested) comedian. This rare Hollywood gamble has certainly worked well.
Because the story has the sweet-natured predictability of an Adam Sandler film, Brand’s wily one-liners and unleashed caffeinated presence give Arthur an extra attractiveness.
Arthur is well-executed tomfoolery slapped on top of sentimental predictability. Hangovers were invented for films like this (or the other way round, whatever). It could have been a lot worse, but there was little space for it to be any better.
A remake of an average film starring the marmite man himself.
Warming with some great one-liners.
Enjoyable but forgettable.