Saturday, April 23, 2011


Ahhh, the movie remake. Why do people do them? Well, occasionally, just occasionally, they're better than the original. Ocean's 11, The Fly, The Thomas Crown Affair, True Grit and well, that's all I can think of. I will not be adding Arthur to this quartet. Not that it's bad, just that it's not good. It's the story of Arthur Bach, a rich irresponsible playboy who is blackmailed by his Mother to marry Susan a very capable business woman who will keep the family millions on track. Arthur doesn't want to marry Susan and falls in love with Naomi. She gives him the incentive to become a better man. Arthur attempts to change his ways through AA and finding employment for the first time in his life. All the while in the moral dilemma of should he marry Susan and live in luxury or be disinherited and be happy with unlicensed tour guide Naomi? The original Arthur starred Dudley Moore and was decidedly politically incorrect and delightful. It is a very difficult task to make a rich, hedonistic drunken playboy the beloved hero of a story, but Dudley pulled it off brilliantly. Russell Brand is Arthur of the 21st Century. Unlike some members of my family, I do rather like him, in his place. Whilst his looks are quite spooky, reminiscent of the great, long, red-legged scissor man; he is not without his charm. The problem is that to pull off the role of Arthur, you need a real boyish innocence, an innate sweetness, a je ne sais quoi. Mr Perry is just far too streetwise to be that man. He also can't act particularly well and can't act drunk at all. In acting inebriated, Dudley Moore was peerless. Susan is played by the very talented Jennifer Garner. Unfortunately it is excruciating to watch her lower her standards to such a level in the scene where she is forced to play the sexy drunk kitten. Arthur's love interest is played by Greta Gerwig, a favourite on the Indy circuit. In the original she was played by Liza Minelli. Love her or hate her, she was quirky and individual, different from the other dames. Greta Gerwig's Naomi is insipid and simpering, nothing special at all. The John Gielgud role of Hobson is in the very capable hands of Helen Mirren. She does an admirable job, but the relationship between her and Arthur is a bit blurred. Whilst she's supposed to be the surrogate Mother, it's more like they're sparring spouses. They have by far the best chemistry, but even that is disjointed and you don't quite believe that he's heartbroken when she leaves him on his own. It's a weird film really. Whilst it's obviously trying to be a different updated version of the original, there are great chunks of lines taken from the first film. Also, it loses a huge amount of heart and humour by trying to be so politically correct. Susan's dad is played by Nick Nolte. Ironically he doesn't like Arthur because of his drinking but himself looks like he's staggered in from the nearest liquor store. It's a miracle that he remembered his lines at all, not that you'd know because he's incoherent most of the time. If you think there's too much comparison to the far superior original, even down to the wonderful soundtrack, that's because if you make a remake, expect people to compare it because you cannot separate the two. It's not a terrible film, there just really was no point in making it in the first place. ARTHUR: This is what happens If you get caught between a goon that's just not witty, I know it's crazy, but it's true. 4/10

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