Arthur Movie Review

Arthur Movie Review


You’re going to be disappointed if you expect new movie release Arthur to be as good as the 1981 original which grossed $100 mil in America alone, won best song and supporting actor Oscars for John Gielgud, and Oscar nominations for original screenplay and best actor for Dudley Moore. The butler in the upcoming movie, Hobson, is played by Helen Mirren, rather than John Gielgud, and Russell Brand plays Arthur. The story is the same: a well-heeled alcoholic without a care in the world discovers that, if he doesn’t get married, he’ll lose his fortune. Somehow, it’s just not as good. The excellent cast of this new movie will bring in some viewers but, according to movie forums, it’s not going to have staying power. It’s not going to do awfully well as a DVD/Blu-ray, either.

Russell Brand was born to play Arthur and he has a producing credit as well. He does quite well, although it’s hard to be in Dudley Moore’s shadow. Brand did a better job of “playing Arthur” in his recent movie “Get Him to the Greek.” It was a better showcase for his considerable talent. It was a great idea to make his butler a woman, but it doesn’t quite work. The script by Steve Gordon has been updated in this movie picture but it’s still mostly unchanged in the adaptation by Peter Baynham and under Jason Winer’s direction. Geraldine James, who plays Arthur’s mother, threatens to revoke his $900 million inheritance unless he marries a girl named Susan, played by Jennifer Garner. She’s a social climber who only wants his name. Instead Arthur falls in love with an ordinary but sweet girl played by Greta Gerwig and his family does not give their approval. Mirren spends her time trying to keep him out of trouble and offering him good advice as to how to clean up his act.

This version is more PC than the original and the drunken silliness has been toned down some. Unfortunately, this incarnation of “Arthur” is without life and falls flat next to the earlier version. Director Winer can be held partly to blame as his direction is, itself, rather lifeless. He goes in for senseless setups and dark cinematrography by Uta Briesewitz. Both Winer and Briesewitz are known for their small screen work and they have trouble here working on the big screen.

Brand and Mirren really try hard but there isn’t much chemistry between them. The supporting cast is somewhat blah. Gerwig, in Liza Minnelli’s old role, is innocent and likeable but she and Brand don’t exhibit much chemistry. Garner is over the top in her role as villain. Nick Nolte’s talented is wasted in the role of Greta’s father. Luis Guzman, who plays Arthur’s driver, has a few good moments.


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