Hard-drinking partying billionaire Arthur is set to marry a rich woman he doesn't love and continue his irresponsible childish ways, but his life is changed when he falls for a gorgeous tour guide and aspiring children's book author Naomi.from£1.79 | RRP:
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Average Rating for Arthur  - 4 out of 5
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Arthur Kevin Stanley
Russell Brand is Arthur Bach: an alcoholic wealthy charmer. He is a generous spirit but he has no focus apart from womanizing, amusing himself with replica cars from films, his giant hovering magnetic bed (and the prostitutes in it), drinking, fine dining and extremely elaborate dates. But his poor public image of drunken behaviour and getting pulled over by the police in silly cars threatens his family's empire: Bach Worldwide. His mother tells him that he must settle down and marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or forfeit his billion-dollar inheritance.
Not everyone likes Russell Brand, but let's get this straight: I think he's wonderful. I met him once and talked to him for a while and he was one of the softest spoken, politest people that I've ever had the privilege to meet. He was an absolute delight. So he may have been addicted to drugs, well in actual fact he most certain was addicted to drugs, and sex as well, but I'll tell you what I think: he's overcome those demons and he's forged himself a very respectable career in films, plus radio presenting and no doubt anything else that he's put his mind to. It's clear that there have been times in his life when Brand has not put in total 100% effort - his autobiographies are littered with examples of this, when he couldn't be arsed to get out of bed, or to make a trip to land a job but it's clear that all that has now changed. Since he met Adam Sandler and signed with Adam Venit (Sandler's powerhouse agent) Brand's career has been getting better and better. Brand is a charmer, he speaks unlike anyone else, his vocabulary is astonishing and his acting and singing abilities are impressive. Here with this re-make of Arthur he has his first big chance to really take on a film as the main character. And although Get Him To The Greek was also a leading role for him, I think that he will be judged more on the basis of his performance in Arthur because here he has to do credit to the late, great Dudley Moore.
So does he do it? Well I think that his performance was very good indeed. He toyed with the idea of mimicking Dudley Moore's voice and intonation for the first scene (very funny Arthur dresses up as Batman with his driver Bitterman (Luis Guzmán) dressed up as Robin before driving a replica Batmobile through the streets to get to a party. Brand actually does a good job of impersonating Dudley Moore but I'm glad that it was just an opening credits homage rather than him continuing the voice throughout the film. As an homage to Moore it works well, but this had to be Brand's film and he does stamp his own mark on the film. It's similar but different, and almost (but not quite) as affecting and as poignant as the original.
Helen Mirren is likable as Arthur's nanny Hobson (a sex change from the original film when Hobson was a butler played by the fantastic John Gielgud) and although she doesn't quite match up to Gielgud who was truly outstanding in the role, she does come close. Jennifer Garner is underused but her role doesn't call for her to do much besides look pretty, while Greta Gerwig takes on the role previously inhabited by Liza Minnelli.
Jason Winer directs and he does a very good job, allowing the film to flow nicely so much so that I didn't really notice the direction at all, maybe it's his background from directing the real-to-life TV show Modern Family, which is also well worth your time - it's an excellent show.
The part where I think it lacks the lovability of the original film is the sense of fun that actors Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli brought. When Moore played the part of Arthur I really believed that he was drunk. But I also really believed that he was having fun, he laughed and giggled, fell over things and generally enjoyed himself. Liza Minelli as Linda also laughed and enjoyed life to the full. I don't feel that Brand and Gerwig were able to replicate this sense of fun and childlike enjoyment of life. Perhaps this is because the alcoholism was toned down (perhaps in a sense to lessen the sense of promoting a drunken and fun life - like I said Dudley Moore's Arthur makes being a drunk look a heck of a lot of fun and perhaps the producers and director wanted to tone this down (it is a 12A rating), perhaps Russell Brand also felt that this should be toned down due to his own former addictions. But regardless Brand and Gerwig are unable to bring the sense of pure pleasure to the film that Moore and Minelli simply exuded. Not that it would be too noticeable if you hadn't seen the original film, but being a re-make it's impossible for me not to compare and contrast the two films, especially when you take into consideration the fact that the original was - and still is - a true classic and a genuine high point for Dudley Moore's career.
That said, there are plenty of laughs and the film works well. I very much enjoyed this new updated version of Arthur - a film for 2010 rather than a film for 1981. There are notable differences and notable similarities, yet ultimately it is the same film. It amuses and tugs at the heart-strings in equal measure and is well worth your time. Naturally if you haven't seen the version starring Moore, Minelli and Gielgud I urge you to see it straight away (before, or after) watching this film.
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