McCoy on Movies: Arthur Movie Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tabari McCoy   
Sunday, 17 April 2011 06:17

McCoy on Movies: Arthur Movie Review
Russell Brand is back in theaters this week. Curious to see how he fares in this modern take of Arthur? Click here and find out!
"'ello love ... If this movie doesn't work, the ring that looks like this one that I gave to Katy Perry should help me maintain my career in the meantime!" Russell Brand maintains a smile on his face as the title character in the remake of the 80s comedy ARTHUR.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Russell Brand, Greta Gerwin, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Luis Guzmán, Nick Nolte, Geraldine James, Jon Hodgman, Scott Adsit and Evander Holyfield


WRITER: Peter Baynham (screenplay), Steve Gordon (story)


DIRECTOR: Jason Winer




THE PLOT: A remake of the 1981 comedy starring the late Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli, 2011's take of Arthur stars Russell Brand of Get Him to the Greek fame in title role as the drunken English playboy worth nearly $1 billion - yes, billion - dollars. The heir to a successful company run by his mother (Geraldine James), Arthur is smart and witty, but also extremely childish with no real world skills - hence the reason his driver Bitterman (Luis Guzmán) and his nanny Hosbon (Helen Mirren) are on hand to take care of his every need.


But after Arthur's latest arrest puts his mother's company in jeopardy, she decides to lay down an ultimatum: Marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) - the well-to-do, power hungry daughter of gruff industrial magnate Burt Johnson (Nick Nolte) - or lose everything.


While Arthur agrees to marry Susan to essentially save his own skin, there's a complication that neither his mother or Susan count on ... He's falling for Naomi (Greta Gerwin), a would-be New York City tour guide with an appreciation of his childlike sensibility. Thus, he's now faced with the ultimate choice: Grow up and be a man and risk it all for Naomi, or marry Susan and be set for life.


How will things turn out? You'll have to see the movie to find out!


THE TAKE: Dudley Moore earned an Oscar nomination for his turn as the film's title character in the 1981 version; while Russell Brand is not going to even get close to earning the Academy's consideration for his turn as the (in Brand's case, much taller) Englishman with a top hat, drinking problem and hearty laugh, I will say this: The man CAN act.


Thinking about Moore and Brand's personal lives and career trek, there are some striking similarities (the marriages to other celebrities, the turbulent personal lives, the potentially questionable career choices, etc.). Whether or not their careers turn out the same, of course, remains to be seen. But much like Moore did in the original film, Brand not only has a keen sense of timing and making the most out of his material for comedic effect, but also in humanizing Arthur. Without showing the character as more than a rich fool, neither film would work - and that lesson is not lost on Brand even as he makes his mirth. While he loves to channel is inner Captain Jack Sparrow (from the needlessly ongoing Pirates of the Caribbean movie series), his English sensibilities are best when he's forced to rely on something other than his smiling charm to make his way through a situation.


Likewise, the chemistry Brand shares on screen with Gerwin and Mirren (who has really been flexing her comedic chops lately) is great to the point that you wish the film leaned heavier on its dramatic aspects than comedic ones. While it's a little weird to see Jennifer Garner play wacky - sorry, it just is! - Brand, Gerwin and Mirren give the film a much needed depth that overcome some less than stellar material early on.


Director Jason Winer takes the film in an interesting direction at times as the latter half of the film, save for the church sequence, feels more like an independent film than a major Hollywood studio release. As the film shifts from a standard, Grown Ups style comedy into a more mature take on a man in a unique situation (see what I did right there with the Grown Ups reference and the word "mature?"), you become more vested in seeing how things turn out. Had he and screenwriter Peter Baynham done this with the first 30 minutes of the film and delivered a more organic, cohesive picture, Arthur might have turned out as a near classic.


Instead, the film is broken into a two parts: Wacky, zany comedy (which is code for average jokes that will make the easily amused smile) and sensitive, heartfelt romantic comedy. The latter half is the better half, which is why any guy who goes to see the film with his date should enjoy it as much (provided he can sit through those first 20-25 minutes and not be unamused).


PARTING SHOT: A film that tries at times a bit too hard to be too many things to too many people, Arhtur ultimately is a nice little date movie with a few good laughs for you and yours to enjoy even if you don't have the millions of dollars at your disposal that he does.



Credit: Barry Wetcher. © 2011 Warner Bros. All Rights Reserved.

Tabari McCoy -

Tabari McCoy is Cincy Chic's movie critic. You can check out more of his work on his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @tabarimccoy


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