[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B004Q9SYYA][/pullquote] Arthur was a 1981 classic comedy staring Dudley Moore, which was a critical and commercial hit leading to its star and supporting star being nominated for Academy Awards. 2011 saw the ˜re-imagining/remake’ staring Hollywood up-and-comer Russell Brand as the eccentric millionaire heir. Alongside Brand is Dame Helen Mirren who replaced British thespian Sir John Gielgud.
Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) is the heir to a huge fortune and a multi-million dollar business, but his pampered upbringing has come at a cost, namely that he is an alcoholic, womanising man-child. He is cared for by Hobson (Helen Mirren) and Bitterman (Luis Guzman), who act as quirky surrogate parents as his real dad is dead and his mum is emotionally cold and disinterested. When his drunken shenanigans threaten an important business deal, his mother gives him an ultimatum: Marry Susan (Jennifer Garner) or give up the wealth.
Usually with middle-of-the road quality films it’s a case of a strong start but it eventually runs out of steam. In the case of Arthur, the reverse is true. The film stutters and struggles to find its rhythm, with Brand over-playing the childish elements of his character. It is up to Dame Helen to pick up the pace, and the two share a blistering chemistry that is a joy to behold. The central romantic relationship between Arthur and Naomi (Greta Gerwig) is sweet and endearing without ever being soppy and wet.
The main problem with the film is that it’s just not funny enough. On paper this should have been a rip-roaring bawdy comedy, tailor-made for Brand and one that should have provided him his star-establishing turn. Sadly the first half is too flat and by the time you reach the great moments in the finale, a lot of goodwill toward the characters has waned.