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Arthur


Talk about contrast. Yesterday, we had Blue Valentine where starry-eyed lovers agreed upon marriage. Today, we have Arthur with a billionaire playboy willing to relinquish his massive inheritance just to guarantee he marries someone of his own choosing that he actually loves. It really puts Dean and Cindy’s decisions into perspective. They can find solace in knowing their movie is immensely better though.

Grade:

Arthur (Russell Brand) is incredibly wealthy from his family’s corporation and loves to use that money to entertain himself. When his mother (Geraldine James) tires of his constant embarrassing acts that scare investors, she gives Arthur an ultimatum: marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner), a hyper-competitive, business-oriented employee, or give up his inheritance and be forced to work for a living. Taking the former is an easy task for the lazy Arthur until he finds how insane Susan is and meets the enchanting Naomi (Greta Gerwig). He is then forced to grow up and learns to be self-sufficient with the help of his nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren).

Right off the bat there is an inherent flaw that is never addressed in the film: his role in the family. At no point in the film do either Arthur or his mother even mention the idea of training him to run the company as the rightful heir. They assume that he is completely incompetent and would never be able to handle such a burden, so the possibility is rendered moot. I cannot blame the writers for omitting this possibility because it would be the smoothest solution to their problems – he could still marry anyone, and the business would be safe – but it hinders the film from retaining any semblance of logic.

Moving beyond this flaw, Arthur has a decent amount of jokes that provoke a small rise. Nothing uproarious, but they keep the film light-hearted and moving. Brand basically rehashes his Aldus Snow role with a slightly higher pitch (who knows why?) and more immaturity. Yet, when the time calls for it, he does not tap into the serious aspects of his character like he did with Snow in Get Him to the Greek.

His relationship with Mirren holds the film together since they are clearly friends, but he still has a respect for her as an elder, an acclaimed actress and – within the film – a mentor. This may have been more due to Mirren’s talents, but who’s to judge? She seems to revel in the chance to play a role in a fun film and the character, Hobson, benefits as a result.

Since my first introduction to Gerwig was a disaster (see: Damsels in Distress), it was a pleasant surprise to see her in a normal role with a normal voice. There always seemed to be something missing between her and Brand, but she did well enough for the part. Meanwhile, Garner plays her typical, uptight control freak with a hint of psychosis thrown in for good measure. Luckily, Susan’s role is kept to a minimum so she can’t really affect the film that much.

All in all, Arthur is better than expected, but still largely forgettable. Having never seen the original and not having a solid base to judge from, the remake is clever at times and produces some heart while never fully crossing that barrier into the echelon of worthy comedies.

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  1. Completely agree with the previous comment. I like Russell Brand so found some of the film really funny but if you aren’t a fan of his humour then I think you’d struggle with this.

  2. Does it have its moments? Of course but they don’t really pop-up all that much and if you don’t like Brand’s style of humor, then you’re going to lose yourself on this one because that’s all it is. Good review.

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