One of the hardest movies to make is a remake. Not only is it competing with whatever else is out at the time, but it’s competing with the original. It’s extremely rare for a remake to not cause villages of angry people to grab their pitchforks and riot on the makers of the film. Arthur is actually a remake of a 1981 film by the same name, which starred Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli. The film might be lucky where it can escape the Dudley Moore fans, but it’s going to be trapped in a burning windmill by the Liza Minnelli fans.
Arthur is about, well, Arthur (Russell Brand,Get Him to the Greek), a 30-year-old rich drunk who has a nanny (played by Helen Mirren, Red). Brands entire goal in life is to spend his vast riches on embarrassing his emotionally distant mother. His Paris Hilton-esque antics finally annoy his mother to the point that she forces him to either get engaged to a wealthy business woman named Susan (Jennifer Garner, The Invention of Lying) or lose all of his inheritance. He then meets and falls in love with Naomi (Greta Gerwig, No Strings Attached), an eccentric illegal tour guide who happens to be poor. Brand then has to decide between the woman he hates and being fabulously wealthy and being with the woman he loves and forever eating off-brand SpaghettiO’s.
As previously stated, Arthur is a remake of a film by the same name from 1981, starring Dudley Moore as Arthur and Liza Minnelli as Naomi, then known as Linda. Comparatively Brand is just as good in Arthur as Moore was. The fast wit and one-liners zing through the air just as good as they did in the original. Brand is definitely finding his stride and this is a great step. Gerwig, sadly, is no Minnelli. The original didn’t just fly with Moore’s zings, but with Minnelli’s. Gerwig tries to keep up with Brand’s comedic timing but she just doesn’t have it.
Part of the charm of the original was that Moore was a fall down drunk through the entire film.It never went into his alcohol abuse but just made it part of his character, instead focusing on the money. The new one puts more emphasis on the alcoholism, which while being more politically accurate drags the movie down at parts. It’s like watching an episode of The Andy Griffith Showwhere Otis the drunk runs over a kid and goes to rehab. It just doesn’t flow with the humor. The whole last ten minutes is about him going to “AA” and pulling himself together, and it just stops the movie dead.
The film is still pretty good. Where Brand and Gerwig didn’t have the right chemistry, Brand and “Nanny” Mirren have it. The back and forth between these two is hysterical, with her straight-laced British attitude completely contrasting his completely off-the-wall antics. Mirren even manages to make the rehab thing kind of work for a few scenes. The film is good for some laughs but just doesn’t quite measure up to the original.
Arthur is rated PG-13 for lots of drinking and seeing Brand in his ‘undies.’