Before I begin this review let me make it clear that I did not see the original Arthur from 1981. But I plan to see it, mostly because hear it is amazing, and because, Hollywood being Hollywood, it has probably nothing to do with this 2011 remake starring Russell Brand. Arthur (2011) is not a bad movie; it certainly has its moments. But besides Brand’s antics and one-liners it offers very little I did not get from watching Get Him to The Greek, where he plays another incredibly eccentric, incredibly rich, and incredibly lost drunk.
Yes Arthur Bach is a drunk. He is in fact the best kind of drunk: a drunk with money. In the opening scene he drives a Batmobile under the Wall Street Bull. After his arrest, he pays his bail as well as everyone else’s and parties with his cellmates back in his apartment. Waking up with a girl in his bed, a few more on his couch, and his nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren), picking up their laundry. Yes, Arthur lives the good life and he lives it well. But his most recent shenanigans have placed his mother’s company in the public eye, and outside the shareholders’ trust. In order to ease the shareholders worries, Arthur’s mother gives him an ultimatum. Either he marries Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or he is cut off from the family inheritance. There are only two problems; Arthur used to date Susan between hangovers and he doesn’t quite remember the relationship, and Susan is a controlling bitch (to put it mildly), a personality type that doesn’t quite mesh with Arthur’s.
To be honest no one else could portray a character like Arthur save Russell Brand. The pseudo-rock star does have a keen ability of looking like the most lovable asshole in the room, so despite the cartoonishness of his character, Brand does manage to ground him in some sort of reality. And it is a pleasure to watch him if it did not feel like I’ve watched it all before in some other movie. Oh wait, I have.
There was more surprise in watching Jennifer Garner in the one character that might actually make you not be attractive to Jennifer Garner. She is almost that good but not quite. Susan is the type of woman that one could only stand if they’ve had the most submissive personality in the world or if, like her father, they had a stronger personality capable of submissing hers. Helen Mirren and Gerta Gerwig do a fine job with what they are given to work. They are not as rich characters as the above but they are both highly likable. For her smile alone you could believe that Gerwig could be the only woman that would love Arthur for the eccentric, drunk that he is without really caring for his money. I have my doubts that such a person exists out there, but that is why we go to the movies anyway.
As basic as it is, the story remains lovable and Russell Brand is certainly much more likable and easy to take in than he was as Aldus Snow, personally I like that character but I understand why people might have an aversion towards him. If you are part of that crowd, don’t let it stop you from watching Arthur; it means you are probably part of the crowd that would enjoy a toned down, PG-13 version of Brand’s clowning splashed in into an otherwise enjoyable Romantic Comedy.