POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, April 7, 2011 Share
Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner
Directed by: Jason Winer
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hours 50 minutes
I’ve decided I’m going to remake “Citizen Kane.” Except my version will feature a fun loving, lovable Charles Foster Kane who not only wins the Governor’s race but goes on to become President. And every winter he, his wife and their 10 kids take turns riding Rosebud down the hill. He lives a very full life and when he dies he’s surrounded by dozens of friends.
OK. I’ve come to my senses. That’s not going to happen. Sadly, no one was able to stop the minds at Warner Brothers who decided to remake the classic 1981 comedy “Arthur.” The original film featured Dudley Moore as a rich, pampered man who drank too much and was having too much fun to contemplate marriage. When a marriage to Susan seems like the right thing to do, business wise, Arthur is forced to propose to her. However, he has recently met Linda, a tough talking waitress. Guiding Arthur through his days is his manservant Hobson. The film was packed with great performances and more quotable lines then you could shake a stick at. I’d like to TAKE a stick to the guy who wrote this new version.
Let me take a few sentences to tell you what’s good about the film, which is the performances. Dudley Moore made Arthur Bach an indelible character and, like Jeff Bridges taking on the Duke in “True Grit,” I’ve got to give Brand credit for stepping into those shoes. Brand is a natural comedian and he surely deserves better than this. He seems to have more of a childlike wonder then Moore did, which plays to Brand’s strengths. In a gender switch this time Hobson is played by the great Helen Mirren, who has little else to do but purse her lips together. Garner is a little over the top as Susan while Greta Gerwig as Arthur’s love interest, now called Naomi, is overly sweet. Nick Nolte is extra gruff as Susan’s father, going as far as to break out his “48 Hours” voice.
Let me take the next few paragraphs to tell you what’s bad about the film, starting and ending with the script. The original “Arthur” was writer/director Steve Gordon’s film debut, earning Gordon an Oscar nomination for his screenplay. Sadly, before we really had a chance to appreciate his talent, Steve Gordon died the year after the film was released. I can honestly say that the loud whirring noise you’re hearing may in fact be Mr. Gordon spinning in his grave. Screenwriter Peter Baynham collaborated with Sacha Baron Cohen on both “Borat” and “Bruno.” Believe me, I know which one wrote the funny parts. Baynham has butchered Gordon’s original story, taking out all of the sweetness that made the original film so beloved. Instead of a young woman hopelessly in love, Garner plays Susan as a manipulating bitch who sees marriage to Arthur as a way to climb to the top of the business world. Mirren’s Hobson obviously dotes on Arthur but more as a servant then as someone that really cares about him. And can someone please tell me why Hobson, whose room in Arthur’s apartment is quite lavish, watches her television programs on an old Sony, circa 1970?
You could say that this week’s rating system is measured in laughs. Seeing as I only laughed once during the entire film I hereby bestow on “Arthur,” out of a possible five, just one star.
This Week's Movie Review of "Arthur" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.
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