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Liking 'Arthur' depends on liking Russell Brand

Russell Brand is Arthur Bach, the ne’re-do-well heir to an enormous fortune.

Russell Brand is Arthur Bach, the ne’re-do-well heir to an enormous fortune. He’s a womanizing playboy, a drunk man-child whose nanny (Helen Mirren) describes as “merely shaped like an adult.” When he embarrasses his mother, she brings down the hammer. Either he straightens up and marries the beautiful but all-business Susan or be disinherited. Trouble is, he’s in love with Naomi (Greta Gerwig) a charismatic Grand Central Station tour guide.


Ratings:
Richard: ***
Mark: **1/2


Richard Crouse: Mark, “Arthur Redux” isn’t an improvement on the original, but it isn’t a complete waste of time, either. I really think your enjoyment of Arthur, the remake of the 30-year-old Dudley Moore comedy, is in direct ratio to your enjoyment of Russell Brand. His brand of Brit-speak verbal diarrhea works in small doses, the trick here is to see whether audiences will sit through two hours of wordplay rivalled only by Charlie Sheen on a crack-fuelled Internet rant.

Mark Breslin: I liked the movie. In fact, I really liked it when I saw it in 1980. It is in no way superior to the original, but Russell Brand does pull it off, although with far less subtlety than Dudley Moore. The lines are good if not great, but I thought everybody else in the film paled in comparison. Even the great Helen Mirren was no John Gielgud, and Greta Gerwig still seems like she’s the best thing in a student film.

RC: Mirren may not equal Gielgud here, but it’s almost worth the price of admission to see her wear a Darth Vader mask. As for Gerwig, I honestly think she’s the best thing in the movie. She’s naturally charismatic and as un-Hollywood an actor as we have in Hollywood films right now. She’s quirky, cool and without her, the movie wouldn’t be nearly as effective. The second half, when it takes a turn for the touching, is better than the “funny” first half and she’s responsible for that.

MB: Interesting. It’s the second, “serious” half of the movie that didn’t work for me. Brand lacks the tragic element that Moore brought, probably because at five-foot-two, Dudley looks vulnerable (and infantile) from the start. And not to attack Ms. Gerwig, but I didn’t get why Arthur would choose her as a romantic interest above all others. She wasn’t all that wild or even all that Bohemian. I thought Luis Guzman was a far better match, although that would have been a very different movie. Nice to see Nick Nolte, although his extended cameo does not qualify as a comeback vehicle.

RC: Funny how we’ve spent very little time discussing the star of the movie. Brand can deliver a joke, unfortunately in the first half of the movie he delivers every line like they are all punch lines. Like the character he’s playing, he’s not as charming as he thinks he is, but he can raise a smile here and there.

 
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