PLOT: A boozy playboy named Arthur (Russell Brand), stands to lose his multi-billion dollar inheritance if he doesn't settle down and marry the businesswoman, Susan (Jennifer Garner) that his mother has chosen to be his mate. Meanwhile, Arthur falls in love with a charming, penniless tour-guide, Naomi (Greta Gerwig)- under the watchful eye of his nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren).
REVIEW: Ugh, ARTHUR is everything that's wrong with remakes wrapped up in a one hundred minute package. A beat-by-beat remake (or re-imagining as the studio would call it) of the 1981 sleeper hit ARTHUR, this 21st century version subs the manic Russell Brand for the late Dudley Moore, and switches Hobson's sex, but other than that this is pretty much the same movie, only louder, dumber and less funny.
I don't want to bash Russell Brand. I realize that he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but I happen to be a fan of his. He killed at Just For Laughs show I saw him at, and he was hilarious in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL, and GET HIM TO THE GREEK. Heck, I even kinda liked his cheeky memoir, 'My Booky Wook'. But a PG-13 leading man, Russell Brand is not.
Where Dudley Moore was a mischievous, but charming playboy with a heart of gold, Brand just portrays ARTHUR as an idiot. He's a spoiled brat, and is such a cartoon character, that there's no way you can ever have empathy for him.
The same goes for the rest of the cast. This is particularly true of Jennifer Garner's character, who's portrayed as a complete sociopath, along with her psychotic father, played by Nick Nolte. Never for a second will you feel like you are watching real characters, and for me that's a deal breaker, as it makes this just another zany comedy, and frankly, it's not funny enough to be effective in that way.
As for Greta Gerwig as the love interest, she doesn't really come across here as well as she does in her mumblecore work. She plays the typical pixie-ish love interest, that's a little too abnoxiously precocious. By the time her and Brand are dining on Spaghetti O's and Pez for dinner, you'll be rolling your eyes at the saccharine “quirkyness” of it all.
The only one who comes across reasonably well is Helen Mirren, although she lacks the acid-tongue that Sir John Gielgud possessed in the original. In that film, Hobson was a much edgier character, and toward the end, when it became apparent that he really cared about ARTHUR, it was moving. Mirren's too maternal, and isn't as cold as she should have been to make her “about-face” convincing. Meanwhile, the third-act dramatic twist, lifted right out of the first film, is handled in a really obvious, more aggressively melodramatic way than in the original film. It also must be said, Brand does not acquit himself well in the dramatic scenes, or at least not nearly as well as he did in GET HIM TO THE GREEK's surprisingly gritty drug subplot.
All in all, ARTHUR is a completely disposable film. It's pointless, as you can just rent the far superior original that sit through this half-baked remake. If Brand's going to make it as a leading man, it won't be in dreck like this.