“Arthur” (Warner Brothers)

Leave Those Old Movies Alone

Watching the remake of “Arthur” reminded me of the fiasco that was the remake of “Alfie.” Why can’t Hollywood just leave the old movies alone? I didn’t really see a need to remake “True Grit” though that ended up being a moneymaker. With “Arthur” they used a cast that doesn’t draw a crowd. The big star was Helen Mirren and they saddled her with a dowdy look and very few lines. Yes “Arthur” should never have been re-made.

In the film Arthur (Russell Brand)is a grown man who still acts like a petulant child.. He doesn’t have a job and spends his time with wine, women and song. His mother (Geraldine James) finally decides enough is enough and orders him to propose to the socially acceptable Susan (Jennifer Garner). If he refuses he will be giving up nine hundred million dollars.

By this time Arthur has met Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a quirky girl who gives unofficial tours of Grand Central Station. So that is the quandary, choose Naomi and give up Susan, or go with Susan and the money and give up Naomi. The ever vigilant Hobson (Mirren), who is Arthur’s nanny, tries to help out but can’t.

The success of the movie depends on the chemistry between Brand and Mirren (there is none) or of that between Brand and Gerwig (there is none). The audience is supposed to see Arthur as adorable and funny but the way Brand plays him he is neither. He is a non-redemptive drunk and an immature wastrel of all the good things he has in his possession.

At best Brand is a matter of taste. He has been in movies such as “Leaving Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him To the Greek.” In both he failed to make much of an impression. He also is the voice of the Easter Bunny in “Hop.” Just hearing his voice is much better than having to watch him perform.

Mirren does her best with a thankless role. She is not supposed to look her best in this film and she definitely doesn’t. You get the feeling she is doing everything possible to connect with Brand and his style of acting but it is a wasted effort.

Gerwig is bland in the role of Naomi and you have to wonder why she got this role rather than some other up and coming actress in Hollywood. Her name certainly isn’t a draw and her performance is just mediocre. Garner at least shows some spunk as Susan. She is the villain of the piece and she seems to relish it.

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and sexual situations.

Dudley Moore wasn’t the greatest actor Hollywood had ever seen but he did manage to create some chemistry on screen with both John Geilgud and Liza Minnelli. Brand just doesn’t have that much talent, and his lost soul of a character stays lost.

I scored “Arthur” a drunken 4 out of 10.

©2011 Jackie K. Cooper