This still looks better than any Batman film Joel Schumacher directed.

Theatrical Release Date: 04/08/2011
Director: Jason Winer
Cast: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Luis Guzmán, Nick Nolte
Rated: PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references
Runtime: 1 hour, 50 minutes


This is my serious face.

Will Hollywood have the dictionary mafia change the meaning of ‘trilogy’ so it refers to the original, the remake, and the reboot? – I’m sure someone’s drafting the legislation. Does there need to be a remake of the 1981 film, “Arthur”? – Of course there doesn’t. However, is that remake worth watching? – I suppose.

Now thirty years from the original, I at least grant that there is a whole generation of people who may have never even known it existed (benefit of the doubt), let alone have watched it. And if you’re going to find someone to replace Arthur Moore as a drunk, wealthy man-child, I’m not sure anyone’s more suited than Russell Brand.

The only trick is that this is a rather safe adaptation of the original. Rather than focus on the alcoholism, the crux for this 2011 Arthur is his flamboyant spending and pampered upbringing, with his bottle problems being somewhat more ancillary. This makes it more palatable for broader audiences who only want simple problems in the way of their happy ending but it does cheapen the legacy of the character somewhat.

On the bright side, though, the dilemma of choosing to marry for love and forgo his fortune or enter into a business-savvy partnership with a social climber is still here, and the script does a good job of updating the jokes and settings for current times.

While Brand handled the comedic bits well, it’s probably good the script didn’t ask too much of him on the other end of the scale, and that they cast Helen Mirren as his nanny who provided the real heart of the film. Stepping in and playing a twist on the servant role John Gielgud did so well in the original, Mirren steals the show here.

Other bits of casting are more hit or miss. Jennifer Garner did a decent job as the stuck up woman Arthur is forced into an engagement with and Greta Gerwig is cute and likable (though I swear they dubbed in Zooey Deschanel for the voice). Luis Guzmán is always a welcome addition for my money but Nick Nolte playing Garner’s father really needs to stop smoking, swallowing razor blades, or whatever the hell he’s doing to make his voice even more gravelly than last I saw him on-screen. While the script may have real words down on paper, some of what he said really seemed like a collection of R’s strung together with various vowels.

Still, in a sea of new releases this weekend, people looking for light fare to distract them for a bit will get what they want out of “Arthur” and so I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. It would have been nice if they could have trimmed the running time 10 or 15 minutes but I was expecting so much more pandering to the lowest common denominator that I left the theater pleasantly surprised. However, don’t take this to mean I want a sequel. Just leave it at this please, no one needs to see “Arthur 2: On the Rocks” again – updated or otherwise.

3 out of 5