Remaking a well thought of ’80s comedy that originally starred Dudley Moore is a bad idea. Just ask Harold Ramis about the Bedazzled backlash. Still, since the gulf between the super-rich and the garden variety human has grown significantly wider since then, I suppose a remake does sort of make sense. Er…transitional line into new paragraph.
“We shouldn’t get married… we have nothing in common. You love horses. I don’t trust them. Their shoes are permanent. Who makes that kind of a commitment to a shoe?”
The film follows Arthur (Russell Brand) an alcoholic, multi-millionaire playboy who embodies the adage “more money than sense”. After embarrassing his high-flying estranged mother (Geraldine James) with his drunken antics, Arthur is given an ultimatum- marry strict businesswoman Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) and secure the fiscal future of the family company or be financially cut off. Arthur understandably goes for the former option, but things get more complicated when he meets Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a tour guide who he immediately falls for. The rest of the film focuses on Arthur’s dilemma- choose a loveless life of luxury or a homely love-filled but cash poor existence? Having seen the original feckin’ years ago, I thought the plot was great. It’s a classic story merely updated and not changed too much.
Once again Brand is a divisive presence. I like the guy and think he’s a decent comic actor, but I know a load of people who think otherwise. I think he charms enough as Arthur to win round some people, but it won’t be for everyone. I really liked (and fancied) Greta Gerwig as Naomi, I thought she brought a nice girl-next-door feel to the character. I thought Jennifer Garner was good too, obviously relishing being able to play a bitch after all those recent nicey-nice roles. Clear scene-stealer though is Helen Mirren as Hobson, Arthur’s sarcastic nanny who gets all the best lines. Mirren is the fucking don in this film.
The opening of Arthur isn’t brilliant. He’s strapping on a Batman suit and getting ready to go on a bender in an actual Batmobile. I remember my “lazy pop culture reference” alarm bells going haywire and making me want to leave. I get embarrassed on a film’s behalf when they do shit like that these days. However, things really start improving after that. The dialogue got better and snappier, Hobson was introduced and things started being downright entertaining. I initially went to see Arthur because I’d heard it was pretty rubbish and fancied pettily taking it apart on this here blog. However, it won me over. I really don’t get the vicious reviews.
I don’t often say stuff like this, but I found the romance to be pretty sweet. Whilst Brand and Gerwig don’t really have much chemistry, the big romantic gestures Arthur laid on for her and their dates started to charm me. For instance, the couple’s first date is so impossibly romantic that even a kitten-stomping bastard like me could recognise that. Arthur’s irresponsible boozing was funny and sad at the same time and his AA meeting with Hobson was genuinely touching. It’s a funny film too and made me laugh throughout the runtime, which really is a rarity in this “Let’s be like the fucking Hangover
” comedic lull.
“What was that?”
“That was a French kiss.”
“No, The French always surrender. THAT was decidedly German.”
Still, I didn’t completely turn into a snivelling girly-man. There are problems. As mentioned, the opening is awful, the chemistry between the two leads isn’t really there and the film can be too saccharine at times. Naomi’s childrens’ story in particular was so sickly I wanted to vomit my lungs up with rage. The original’s obviously better, but if you give this version a go, you may be surprised. What can I say? I expected it to be shit and was entertained instead- these things happen from time to time.