Review – Arthur (2011)

Originally printed in The Portland Mercury 04/07/2011

RUSSELL BRAND is the only reason a remake of Arthur exists. Brand needed a vehicle. Hollywood, sporting a hate-boner for anything remotely original, hollowed out Dudley Moore’s biggest success and filled the hole with Brand’s toothy, goofy essence. What could go wrong? The same plan worked flawlessly with Jude Law and Alfie, right?

Luckily for Brand, I don’t have that high of an opinion of the 1981 original. It was a largely forgettable film, and I never connected with Moore, who I found to be barely more than a slurring, odious troll-person. As a vehicle for Brand, this Arthur is a mild success: He fully embodies the titular happy-go-lucky degenerate, acting both innocently decadent and generously good hearted. Brand’s effortless charm makes Arthur’s alcoholic transgressions easy to forgive, and the bucketful of throwaway one-liners he’s constantly firing off doesn’t hurt, either. Plus, Brand not only holds his own with Helen Mirren (who plays his nanny), but the two seem to share genuine warmth. And even though Arthur’s loopy love interest (Greta Gerwig) is yet another variation on the hyper-clichéd manic pixie dream girl, Arthur is essentially a manic pixie dream boy, so the pairing comes off as winsome, not grating.

Unfortunately, “Arthur” doesn’t do much else right. It’s a testament to Brand’s comic abilities that he can keep his head above the gallons of shit-spiked treacle director Jason Winer tries to drown him in; You can tell Winer comes from ABC, because I get the sense he snuck over to the set of Grey’s Anatomy and stole about 15 songtages and a pack of Virginia Slims out of their purse, choking out every attempt at honest emotion.

Against this sap assault, just about everything—including Arthur’s slate of side characters, played by the wasted Nick Nolte, Luis Guzmán, and Jennifer Garner—gets lost. This Arthur is less a tall, stiff drink, and more like an expired bottle of Zima.

Published in: on 12/31/2010 at 1:09 am  Comments Off on Review – Arthur (2011)  
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