Movie ReviewsRating: 4.5 of 5 yaps


Hollywood finally figured out what to do with kinky British comedian Russell Brand, and it turned up in the unlikeliest of places: A remake of a 30-year-old romantic comedy starring Dudley Moore.

Brand, best known for his hedonism-embracing rocker Aldous Snow in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” combines a verbose patter of self-effacing commentary with the hair and dress code of Keith Richards circa 1975. He has often rubbed American audiences the wrong way, though he’s a big star across the pond.

I recently heard an interview Brand did with NPR’s Terry Gross and was struck by how thoughtful and well-spoken he came across. Perhaps that paved the way to embracing his charming performance as Arthur, an impish millionaire man-boy who drinks only well-aged booze but has defiantly resisted any maturation of his own.

It is, of course, Dudley Moore’s signature role from the 1981 film written and directed by Steve Gordon who, alas, died young the year after it was released. I admit I resisted the idea of this remake — and by such young hands, too. This is the first feature film for director Jason Winer.

But the two films, while nearly identical in plot, are largely divergent in their tone and humor. Brand creates a distinctive character based on his own persona rather than trying to mimic Moore. He is by turns hilarious and touching, with an inner core of sweetness we haven’t seen from him before.

Put it this way: If Aldous Snow — also seen in “Get Him to the Greek,” the quasi-sequel to “Sarah Marshall” — was defined by a complete lack of guile in obscuring his loathsome core, then Brand’s Arthur uses the trappings of the spoiled rich playboy to conceal the fact that he’s really gentle and vulnerable inside.

No doubt you’ve also heard about the film’s big casting twist — putting Helen Mirren in the role of Hobson, the stern servant played by John Gielgud in the original movie. Hobson’s job, indeed her very life, is given over to managing Arthur’s drunken debauches and steering him ever so subtly — and usually ineffectively — toward the light. Mirren turns out to be a grand slam, allowing a little bit of maternal warmth to shine through the relationship.

The basic story is unchanged. Arthur, a continual embarrassment to the Bach family, is ordered to marry a respectable woman by his powerful and emotionally distant mother (Geraldine James) or be cut off from the vast familial fortune. He reluctantly agrees but then meets a dazzling poor girl who steals his heart away.

Naomi is played by Greta Gerwig, an indie film star who occasionally pops up in mainstream movies. She has a radiant smile and some smarts, too, and is initially resistant to Arthur’s overtures. She eventually melts, though, after he makes some pretty extravagant overtures for their first date.

Jennifer Garner plays Susan, the all-too-wrong fiancée for Arthur. She’s the hard-charging daughter of a manly-man construction magnate (Nick Nolte) and sees Arthur as part fix-it project and part keys to the CEO chair of the Bach conglomerate.

The biggest compliment I can give to the new “Arthur” is that it made me forget about the old one, or at least not mind that they remade it. Rather than a bland retread, Brand gives us a thoroughly funny, charming and irresistible character.

4.5 Yaps


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20 Responses to “Arthur”

  1. Brenda Randall says:

    I didn’t think that I would like this movie but the romantic scenes touched my heart. My favorite part of the movie is the part where he fell in love with the common girl and not the high class girl his mom picked for him.

  2. Melissa Long says:

    I loved the original movie. When I heard they were remaking it, I thought why? Then I heard Russell Brand was involved and I thought well I guess if they were going to use anyone it had to be him. I’m still not sold, but the review might have convinced me to redbox it one night.

  3. larry glowner says:

    cant wait for the dvd not sure its worth the price of a movie ticket

  4. Kim says:

    I loved this movie it had me laughing from start to finish. As soon as it come to dvd am buy it.

  5. Barney says:

    What a big disappoinment. Not as good as the original and I really didn’t like that one either.

  6. I went to see the movie, and I loved it. I loved the character who played Arthur. The next day, I logged onto Netflix to watch the original version with Dudley Moore.


  7. Leslie G says:

    I am glad that this is actually a decent film. Many comedies look funny in previews and then end up not being so funny where all the laughs were seen in the preview. I love Russell Brand, he has such a quirky acting personality and real personality. I have enjoyed him in all the movies you mentioned him in. From the preview Jennifer Garner’s character did not seem like it should have been cast to her. It just did not seem like the traditional role Jennifer Garner would play. I did not even know that there was an original movie that this was a remake of.

  8. Beth P. says:

    I wasn’t sure I’d like this movie but it worked. Russell Brand doesn’t try to channel his inner Dudley Moore which I was afraid of. He’s more manic but still likable. Jennifer Garner played a truly scary Susan that impressed me and Helen Mirren is wonderful as always. If you’re not a Russell Brand hater, this one is worth seeing at the theater.

    P.S. Now I really want a Batmobile that flames on for Christmas.

  9. Michael Donley says:

    I find this hard to believe. The previews looked awful, and Russell Brand is one of the most annoying people on Earth. Having said that, I’ll probably catch it on HBO at midnight about a year from now.

  10. Holly Stephens says:

    This is a film that I wish they wouldn’t have done a remake of. Seems that Hollywood is running out of ideas so now they are not just remaking old films that time might have helped but now films that could fall into the "classic" category are being remade. I wonder when Caddyshack is going to be coming out remade.

  11. Ben says:

    I loved the original (seems like it was in constant rotation on HBO back in the day) especially John Gielgud’s performance, so I was convinced when I heard it was being remade that it would be a disaster. I’m hearing lots of good things about the new movie however, and this review makes me want to check it out now. I like Russell Brand but just feel he’s never had a role that really worked for him on any level other than slapstick. Hopefully this will be the start of better things for him.

  12. Heidi says:

    Wasn’t really planning on seeing this, but after reading the review it sounds much more intriguing. I think I’ll have to check it out!

  13. Matt A says:

    4.5 yaps? I hated it. But then again, it’s probably because I’m so fond of the original.

  14. Becky Meredith says:

    Unfortunately I had to work the night of the preview, but Rick went with one of his daughters and loved this movie. We both love the original, and he said this was as funny if not funnier than the original.
    I am looking forward to seeing it soon.

  15. Carol says:

    I agree with your comments on Arthur. The movie was a remake but stood alone. Russell Brands character was different than that of Dudley Moore. I really enjoyed both movies.

  16. Leeann Pugh says:

    I barely remember the first Arthur, not a big fan of Dudley Moore. Have been trying to decide whether or not to see the remake. After reading the comments and seeing the rating given I may have to give it a chance.

  17. Jake says:

    Loved this movie funny stuff have yet to see the original will this week though

  18. […] ill effect (“The Pink Panther” and the “Rear Window”-aping “Disturbia”). With the new “Arthur,” it was obviously a pale imitation of what made the original so great, but the casting of Russell […]

  19. Austin Lugar says:

    "The biggest compliment I can give to the new “Arthur” is that it made me forget about the old one or at least not mind that they remade it."

    Pardon while I weep quietly to myself.

  20. Jack says:

    I was glad to read in your review that this movie can stand alone, and not just be another "remake". Which gives me a good reason to see it. Thanks – and cheers!