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RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
- Gag Reel
- Arthur Unsupervised
- Deleted Scenes
Russell Brand plays an asshole who has sex with Greta Gerwig and Jennifer Garner. Not at the same time. But still, fuck that guy. And this movie.
Russel Brand, Greta Gerwig, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Nick Nolte
Arthur (Russell Brand) is a wealthy, drunken tool who falls in love with Naomi (Greta Gerwig) after randomly stumbling in front of her one day. His mother (Geraldine James) has already arranged a marriage with Susan (Jennifer Garner) in order to keep her mega corporation in the family name but not have a complete fuckwad running it. If Arthur doesn’t marry Susan, his mommy will take away all his money. The huge drunken tool must find a way to keep the cute girl and stay filthy rich. Luckily for the smug prick, all is saved when Helen Mirren dies for his sins.
Arthur is what happens when Russell Brand is cast as the lead. It doesn’t help that the film is an underdeveloped remake of a comedy classic. A film with some of the tightest comedic performances of its time. It’s a sick cinematic stretch from Dudley Moore to Russell Brand. Overestimating his own abilities as an actor, Brand plays Arthur as a mentally retarded spoiled child who mistakes letting models sleep with him for altruism. With the perfect blend of lazy writing, shitty performances, and misunderstanding the entire point of the original film; Arthur’s child like fascination with his love for Linda has been morphed into a creepy need to find a new surrogate mother. Brand’s Arthur is a selfish train wreck with an obnoxious voice and a host of unhealthy obsessions. Except for the occasional jabs for sympathy and a PG-13 makeover, Arthur is Aldous Snow. Because he is a douche bag on a life-long bender, the filmmakers can ignore character development and keep Brand in the same state of confused intoxication the entire film. Arthur stumbles and squeaks around until Naomi magically falls in love with him. He does absolutely nothing to get her attention. He gets drunk and makes a bunch of shit of up. Which is all he does. Ever. Because Arthur exists squarely in the realm of romantic comedy logic, Brand can play it one note and the plot will just move forward as scheduled.
Greta Gerwig’s character marks the return of magical pixie girl. A moniker that could easily be applied to Liza Minnelli’s Linda in the original film, but the personality has been written right out of the role for Gerwig. Minelli’s attractive sneer and undomesticated street savy becomes Gerwig’s whimsical innocence. Naomi is a blank slate dressed by Urban Outfitters. She has bullet points instead of a personality, each of them more irritatingly cute than before. She gives illegal tours of landmarks for a living, but it’s unique and charming so the cops just give her that patented movie cop sigh and eye roll instead of arresting her. Naomi’s dream is to write and illustrate children’s books (hi, Pam); but her father is vaguely sick, so instead she has to work hard doing those stupid illegal tours, that make no goddamn sense except as a ‘quirky’ way to have a character skirt on the edge of the law. It’s all too sickeningly sweet. Still, none of that is Gerwig’s fault, and she does fine with the borderline offensive material that she’s given. She is quite adorable, which is all the movie is asking from her. Her job is to simply act like no human being would ever act and look cute doing it.
The only possible saving grace could be Helen Mirren, right? And she’s in the John Gielgud role, one of the most memorable parts of the original film. A role that the filmmakers must have thought wasn’t boring enough. Like most of the cast, her character has been reduced to a plot device. Hobson is there to be a surrogate mom and die. She’s playing British nanny via the stick up the ass method. You get the sense that she is proper and wise simply because she looks like a bitch. The bit of humanity they left in the character is turned into old sage dribble. Hobson becomes sort of off putting and then she dies. I don’t know if there was time for Helen Mirren to give a shit in between, but she certainly didn’t. And no one can really blame her.
Besides Brand, who might easily be giving it his best, no one is even trying. Nick Nolte is playing Bruce Banner’s pappy again, Jennifer Garner plays the aggressively sexual (and oddly masculine) counterpoint to Gerwig’s innocence, and Luis Guzman is auditioning for a Happy Madison production. No one here is uncomfortable playing their part, and the cast is so obvious it has to work. Guzman is awful at being funny, but his entire job is to make Arthur look just a little bit less like an actual mentally retarded man and he excels at that. Can you imagine Nick Nolte as a crazy, possibly homicidal father? Yes, of course you can because you have a seen Nick Nolte. He plays angry alpha male here just like he played angry alpha male twenty years ago. It’s not bad, but it’s just Nick Nolte in a movie. Still, if anyone can frighten a marriage into existence, it is Nick Nolte. The only thing scarier than being a poor punching bag for Nick Nolte is the fact that Susan probably has a penis. That’s not meant as a slight on Garner’s looks. Susan is so far the diametric opposite of Naomi that they include a scene where she all but tries to rape Arthur. Garner is good at being tall and looking manish and that is totally one way to play a dominating female character. Like everyone else, she fills the role harmlessly enough and probably got a paycheck that far outweighed the effort.
It’s unfortunate that Arthur is a remake of a much stronger film, but it would still fall without the comparisons. It’s a vehicle for an actor that should be doing cameos at most. Even if you find Brand’s schtick amusing, it’s neutered and stale here. Russell Brand can’t carry a movie, that experiment has failed. Brand is awkward and confused, with hardly an attempt at actual charm. Arthur leads him along, jumping from cliché to cliché in a rush to the end. As much as the film is a race, the pacing is glacial. A comedy without laughs is a failure, plain and simple, and Arthur doesn’t have a single gag that works. Brand is either overselling his laughs or the rest of the cast is underselling theirs. Arthur tries to skate along on the non-existent charisma of its lead, but ends up drowning in his flop sweat.
Extras are the usual for a movie barely four months old. Watch Russell Brand act like an annoying twat! Listen to people talk about a movie you wish you’d never seen! The transfer is as equally unsurprising as the extras.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars