Directed by Jason Winer. Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner.
A remake of the 1981 film with Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli, Arthur tells the tale of a rich man-boy who doesn’t want to grow up. The perfectly cast Russell Brand, who I wasn’t much looking forward to watching, is in fact uproariously funny, which could be due to the English accent and the fact that his own life of addiction and promiscuity were perfect practise for this role.
Arthur Bach is filthy rich (rather his family is), has a nanny called Hobson (Mirren), owns the Batmobile (the Val Kilmer, Batman Forever one), has wild romp-filled parties with girls who steal his stuff and calls his estranged mother by her first name after his father dies and she has to take care of the empire.
Alright, so here’s the thing. Russell Brand is a really famous English entertainer (now married to singer Katy Perry) who grew up in a troubled family, had problems with drug and sex addiction, has had his share of controversy (he brought his drug dealer to his place of work once and got fired) and is known to say really politically incorrect shit at awards shows. So whoever took the decision to have this twisted but probably misunderstood bloke in Arthur probably deserves an award for casting.
Arthur’s mum Vivienne (Geraldine James) has had enough of his extremely public escapades that are ruining the family name so she decides it’s time for him to marry businesswoman Susan (Garner) to bring a facade of stability in his life. It’s either that or he loses $9.5 million of his trust fund and with it his flamboyant lifestyle. Considering how a rich arse is better than a poor one, he reluctantly agrees but fate has other plans when he meets the bubbly and struggling author Naomi (Gerwig) and finds an instant connection with her. But what about that little business with his wedding?
Sure Arthur is a silly movie, with a silly protagonist, over-the-top, a bit of fop (the rhyme just happened there) but Brand’s delivery of the oh-so-clever dialogue is brilliant. Apparently there was a lot of improvisation on his part, thank god. You can’t help but laugh – and you will do a lot of that – and snicker at this grown man being read bedtime stories to on his circular, floating magnetic bed. Nanny Hobson, played by Oscar winner Helen Mirren, is the balancing factor in Arthur’s life. Picking up after him and chiding him but eventually being his confidante and benefactor in more ways than cleaning up his mess. She adds the requisite gravitas in the film that prevents it from spiralling into a complete farce.
Arthur, I think, has managed to capture some of that innocent charm and wanton childishness that some of the 80s films were loved for, in large measure to Brand’s outstanding performance. This is not brilliant filmmaking but it sure is hilarious entertainment. Someone asked me if I’d like to be like Arthur, and I have to admit, I’d rather fancy it if I got the inheritance and the girl in the end!