I like Russell Brand as I find him incredibly intelligent and he has a great command of the Queen’s English. I like Helen Mirren as she is a very talented actress and a woman who seems very comfortable in her own skin. Even though most remakes are bad ideas and are poorly executed I gave this one a chance. A chance because it stars Helen Mirren and Russell Brand plus the likeable Jennifer Garner. Though it was not an unmitigated failure it was still somewhat of a disappointment.
Brand’s acting is shaky, Garner is totally miscast and as a result she overacts and Mirren, who is her usual solid self, tries to hold her head up high even though she must know that the ship is going down. Many were hating on this film from the very beginning. I didn’t. I gave it a chance. The film let me down. Too bad.
Arthur (Russell Brand – Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek) is the spoiled, ne’er do well son of multi-millionaires the Bachs. His Drunken, debaucherous ways have started to affect his family’s business – Bach Worldwide. His mother, Vivienne (Geraldine James – Sherlock Holmes, Ghandi), and her employee, Susan (Jennifer Garner – Catch and Release, Juno), decide it’s time to tie his aimless ship to another. Susan and Arthur dated for three months and then he “disappeared”. He is the only man she ever slept with who dumped her. Susan, a woman not born rich but who is ambitiously climbing her way up the corporate ladder, sees this as an opportunity to gain some respect.
As he is a grown man with a child’s mentality, Arthur has a nanny named Hobson (Helen Mirren – The Debt, The Queen). He is continuously drunk, getting into trouble, sleeping with many women, giving away his family’s money, and loves to watch cartoons. Arthur is the sole heir of Bach Worldwide. He makes investors nervous. His mother tells him that he must marry Susan or he is cut off completely.
Losing $950 million is too much for Arthur. He begrudgingly agrees to marry Susan. While contemplating this he bumps into a tour guide in Grand Central Station. He is taken by her. Naomi (Greta Gerwig – No Strings Attached, Baghead) is about to be arrested for conducting tours without a license, but Arthur rescues her.
Hobson discourages Arthur from getting involved with Naomi and reminds him that he is marrying Susan. He doesn’t listen. To assert some independence, Arthur tries getting a job though that doesn’t work out at all. It seems that even though he has feelings for Naomi and none for Susan that he is going to end up with her. But when you get caught between the moon and New York City the best that you could do is fall in love.
While the remake of Arthur is not awful, it isn’t enjoyable. Not as enjoyable as it could have been with the four leads involved and the cute story. Yes, Dudley Moore was the perfect Arthur, but in my mind that does not mean that there could not be another Arthur out there. I gave it a chance.
Maybe it was doomed to fail from the beginning. Russell Brand had huge shoes to fill. Despite his intelligence combined with goofiness maybe this role was too much of a stretch. Too much to live up to. He is not awful, but does not make the role his own.
There were some good elements such as the way it looks. New York City is always a great co-star. And that is exactly what it is, a co-star. Filmed not only around the streets, but in Grand Central Station. It also has some great music going on. And that pretty much sums all of the positive elements.
The biggest thing going against it is that it is not funny. Jason Winer’s (director of television series Modern Family) film needs those funny moments in order for us to swallow the predictable silly moments and cover up all the flaws. Because you are not laughing you notice things like Brand being annoying rather than a loveable drunk. Dialogue was filled with nonsense and was often corny. Poor Helen Mirren does what she can with her badly written lines. She is doomed from the beginning as she does not benefit from the wry one-liners that Sir John Gielgud did. Director Jason Winer, who looks out of his depth here which is surprising in that he directs the very funny Modern Family, lets the film get out of his control. Most scenes are mediocre at best.
I know that I really should not compare the remake to the original, but in this instance I must. The original is better than this version of the film in every single way.