ARTHUR Review

I feel it necessary to start off by saying that I haven't seen the original "Arthur" that is so highly praised by my parents generation. That is why I found it odd my dad, who maybe attends two movies a year in the theater, was willing to go see this re-make. He made it clear it wasn't one of his favorites, that all he really remembered about it was Dudley Moore being drunk the whole time, but he did know he enjoyed the film. I wondered how much this new version, now made as a Russell Brand vehicle, would appeal to him. I guess the more appropriate question was would he find Brand's sense of humor appealing? It wasn't as much about re-making the film as answering the interesting question of what a current comedian would do given a classic comedies premise. The result is probably just what you would expect: a run of the mill comedy that offers up a few laughs but nothing really groundbreaking. Let's be honest though, groundbreaking isn't the word the makers of this new "Arthur" were going for.


And so, the question I most anticipated asking my dad after watching the film was how did Brand measure up? Now, again, my dad is anything but an expert in film or criticizing why a film works and why it doesn't, but the guy was entertained and he enjoyed Brand's performance and the film in general and honestly, so did I. Sometimes those who do criticize film get too wrapped up in details and bothered by too many factors that ultimately differ from film to film anyway. With "Arthur" there will no doubt be a lot of complaining with Brand's performance and how it is disrespectful to the original, but without having seen that, I will just have to look at the film with fresh eyes. I'm not going to pick it apart and say how generic and bland the movie got at points, instead I'd rather applaud the strong female cast that only support a performance by Brand that showed me he is more than just Aldous Snow and can carry a movie himself, and with an ease that suggests he's completely comfortable in the role.

Brand, a spastic ball of energy, bounces from set-up to set-up with the most enthusiastic of energy that really relates to the audience, showing us that he cares about the character he is playing and thus we become kind of invested in this misfit billionaire and though the majority of us could never understand or have the will to empathise with this guys situation it really feels as if that is what Brand is going for. In part, he succeeds, though it is really hard to feel sorry for someone who's been spoiled his entire life and is threatened with having it all taken away because he hasn't acted maturely is a bit much to ask, but we buy into it and we root for the guy to be able to have it all. Its all a bit ridiculous and ultimately shows how much our society would ideally like to put the importance of love before anything, even money. It's a nice notion, even if it doesn't feel genuine once the credits roll and you are back in the real world. The important thing to know though is that though Brand is of a particular taste, he shows here he can manage a PG-13 rated film and still be cleverly witty and quirky. He is entertaining to experience and thus so is the film for most of its running time.

What makes up for the lagging moments between Brands brash stretches of comic escapades are the three supporting roles of three strong and credible women. As his faithful nanny, Helen Mirren's Hobson is seemingly bored with Arthur's behavior but she never loses faith in him and Mirren is able to perfectly balance her British superiority with her warm spot Arthur has carved out for himself in her heart. Then there is the evil woman who only wants to marry Arthur so to inherit the family name and take over the family business. As Susan, Jennifer Garner gets her juiciest role in years and plays it to the hilt. She looks as if she's actually having some fun and it's nice to see as is a bigger role for Greta Gerwig who has only been in smaller indie films thus far. She plays the quirky opposite female of everything that Susan is and everything that Arthur wants in a woman. It is a charming relationship and it is the heart of the film. Gerwig nails the tone of the relationship perfectly while teaching Arthur the lessons her really needs to learn in life. No, this isn't some great revolutionary film, and it certainly isn't groundbreaking, but it is good fun and how can you really be mad about that?