Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Russell Brand stars as the titular character in this remake of the 1981 film of the same name starring Dudley Moore. Arthur is a spoiled, drunken playboy who doesn't know how to do anything except squander his mother's fortune. Fortunately there's an awful lot to squander. (Although by my calculations, if he spent as much as we see in the film, even his billion dollar fortune wouldn't last.) However, his life turns upside down when his mother gives him the ultimatum of marrying uptight businesswoman Jennifer Garner or else she will disinherit him. Now, I know what you're thinking. Is that really a tough decision? Marrying Jennifer Garner hardly sounds like a punishment. But to Arthur it is, especially once he falls in love with commoner Greta Gerwig.
The story arc of this remake is very close to the original, but it's been updated of course. Normally I'm not a fan of remakes, but this one really needed one. I saw the original when I was a kid and revisited it recently and it just doesn't hold up. I find it astonishing that Dudley Moore was nominated for an Oscar. His performance was one-note and hackneyed. And the Academy Award winning theme song is a simply a dreadful ear sore. So I actually think this version works better. Brand was the right choice to replace Moore. And the Academy Award winning part of the butler, Hobson, originally played by Sir John Gielgud has been filled by Dame Helen Mirren, which was also clever casting. And while it was simply impossible to believe that Moore's character was willing to give up a fortune for Liza Minnelli, I can at least suspend my disbelief for Greta Gerwig. I'd give up a sizeable chunk of my savings for her. But I just can't get around that the movie is completely predictable, especially if you've seen the original. Some parts of the film work well, but others are just a drag.
I couldn't see this one pre-release date because the only advanced screening offered in my area was in conflict with the only advance screening of 'Your Highness'. I originally suspected 'Your Highness' would be better so I went to see that instead. But after seeing them both, I'd say it was a dead heat.