Saturday, April 9, 2011

Movie Review: Arthur

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A few months shy of the 30th anniversary release date of the original, we get the remake of Arthur. The original starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and Sir John Gielgood went on to become an award winning American classic. The updated version has Russel Brand, Greta Gerwig and Helen Mirren taking on the same main roles. This time around, awards will probably not be given to this version. Does that mean that it's a bad movie? No, it just means that once again the original remains the better version.

Arthur Movie Poster
Russel Brand as Arthur brings that drunken swagger that we've seen from him as Aldus Snow in Get Him to the Greek. There was a certain point in the wealthy man-boy where he flirted with being totally annoying as I find Will Ferrell when Ferrell does his version on man-boy, but Brand remained just far enough away in the first hour of the film's 110 minutes to make it bearable. The latter half of the movie as he makes the transition of boy to man is when he really settles into the role and became enjoyable to watch.

In the gender swapping role of Hobson, Mirren comes in to protect the man-boy from his partying playboy ways as the nanny. She delivers her lines well. The self-assuredness as she confronts one women to safeguard Arthur from both himself and her is spot on; but for me it was when she put on the Darth Vader mask and repeats a couple of statements from Arthur that got my biggest laugh.

Gerwig is the love interest of Naomi, an illegal tour guide whom Arthur runs into and starts to fall in love. Unfortunately, mommy has forced Arthur into an agreement to marry Susan (Jennifer Gardner) in order to protect the Bach family business and fortunes or by rejecting the arranged marriage to be cut off from a bank account that's just a tad shy of a billion dollars. That's a lot of cheese that Arthur just won't do without.

The one part of Arthur's lavish lifestyle that surprised me as they updated the film to make it more contemporary is that Arthur remained a womanizing drunk and not a womanizing drug addict. You would have thought in today's world that cocaine, meth or ecstasy would have shown up in the movie. They really didn't but it was rated PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references.

The basic story line remains with a couple of gender role twists. But at the core of the movie is that it's supposed to be a romantic comedy. Does it deliver in that space? For the most part yes. It was also fun to see how a super rich person would squander some of their money with the gaudy and garish apartment fixtures like a operating solar system model night light or a floating magnetic bed. Or what about buying that sweet ride and its accessories. Many fan boys would love to have the most memorable of the Batman suits, you know, the one Val Kilmer wore in Batman Forever and the accompanying Batmobile. Or what about customized PEZ dispensers. For some people that would be right up there with lavish expenditures! We can dream can't we!

Back in 1981, Christopher Cross co-wrote and sung Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do) which won the Academy Award for Best Music - Original Song. It is reprised in the new version of the film by Fitz and the Tantrums playing over a fun to watch closing credits. If you go in with tempered expectations, you'll come out with a smile on your face.

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