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Published on April 7th, 2011 | by simeon

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Arthur (2011)

Arthur, a remake of the 1981 classic with Dudley Moore, retells the story of the rich playboy Arthur Bach, who stands to inherit a vast fortune if only he marries the woman his cold-hearted mother has selected for him. Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, and Jennifer Garner, the film doesn’t succeed as a remake because several cast members performed in a way that didn’t even match the level of the original.

Russell Brand carries the role of Arthur very well. I wasn’t really worried about him filling the big shoes of Dudley Moore, because I’m a big fan of his comedy, and his outlandish style and comedic timing was well-suited. I am also a great admirer of Helen Mirren, but she didn’t quite compare to the scathing but loyal butler Hobson that Sir John Gielgud created in the original film. She plays a great surrogate mother to Arthur, and in a way, she is the film’s saving grace. Jennifer Garner has played too many sweethearts recently for me to take her seriously as Arthur’s calculating, power-hungry bride-to-be Susan, but she squeaked by with a believable performance. Greta Gerwig as Arthur’s love interest Naomi was good in a few select scenes but failed to achieve the fantastic chemistry seen between Liza Minnelli and Dudley Moore in the original. And Nick Nolte, who plays Susan’s father wasn’t understandable. He was a tough guy who came off as just a confused jerk. Generally, when I stop caring about major characters in a movie, the movie doesn’t have much of a chance of impressing me.

The film itself wasn’t as bad as some of the acting, though. The story borrowed heavily from the original, as any remake does, but had enough original plot lines to stand on its own. The comedic scenes are for the most part funny, but I was touched most by the treatment of Arthur’s alcoholism in the latter part of the movie. Not overtly addressed in the original, it was one of the few aspects of the movie that were far superior than the original. Brand shows the despair of losing the one good thing in his life better than Dudley Moore did, and while Mirren didn’t quite match Gielgud, she was better suited for the role than anyone else I can think of.

In summary, this film definitely fails to live up the original in many ways, but still contains enough surprises to pull itself out of the disaster it was headed toward. It becomes a somewhat watchable film, if not a film I would recommend to my friends. I’ll still suggest they watch the original before, and even instead of, this remake.

Two stars out of five


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