Movie review by Neil Sadler
Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Greta Gerwig, Nick Nolte
Director: Jason Winer
ARTHUR is a remake of the Dudley Moore film, now thirty years old but still a somewhat timeless vehicle for his English charm and John Gielgud’s subtle class. Arthur is a spoiled rich brat wasting his life in a stupor of wine and women. When an arranged marriage seems to be his only way of keeping his money, Arthur meets Naomi and must decide between love and money.
There are sparks of wit and moments of tenderness in this remake. Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig act their pretty little socks off but ultimately ARTHUR is saddled with the triple whammy of bad casting, bad timing and an almost complete lack of charm.
This is obviously created as a vehicle for foisting Russell Brand on a wider audience. Ever since FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL studios seem determined to make him a star. As a comic, he was an extraordinary wit and is an intelligent wordsmith but as with Eddie Izzard, when you start to put other people’s words in his mouth, you lose the very thing that makes them unique and they become little more than another English accent.
It doesn’t help that this is a film about someone blessed with loads of money they didn’t earn, being shown at a time when people with money aren’t seen with much sympathy. It would be a hard task for any actor but the film isn’t helped by Brand’s constantly charm less persona and some cartoon performances from fading stars Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte as the villains of the piece. Garner particularly seems to have left any subtlety at the door and pants and leers whenever she is on screen. Without a worthy villain, we have even less reason to care about the drunken rich kid.
Thank god then for Helen Mirren who manages to give the film more class and gravitas than it deserves. Her nanny, Hobson, is not only Arthur’s heart and conscience but also though not quite the film’s saving grace. You believe in her love for Arthur and in her as a character and so it goes some way towards making him a bit more loveable.
Greta Gerwig also manages to raise her love interest far beyond the script and the scenes between her and Mirren deserve to be in a better film. She herself imbues Naomi with an innocence and quirkiness and with a more charming foil to fall for this may have been a better romantic comedy.
There is hope for Brand because he can be extremely witty and charming, but not here. Also the director in his first feature film shows promise but both he and Brand need to find a classier act rather than this pointless charm less waste of 100 minutes.