Arthur

Too Much a Brand

         
 

08 April 2011| No Comments     by Sean Chavel

 

Calculated with preordained conclusions. The screenplay for Arthur is calculated and mechanically processed, and further is woefully imbalanced by Russell Brand’s cloddish performance. As the childish billionaire playboy who is always a drunk, Arthur is commanded by his corporate cutthroat mother to marry society woman Jennifer Garner or she will take away his inheritance from him. Arthur could figure out how to launder his allowance money into another secret account or wire it into offshore banking, but he’s too helplessly drunk to do it. Except that Brand, with his devil’s reject popping eyes, is always the same spastic case whether he is drunk or not, and there is no slumber in his drunkenness – he is too high energy and high velocity to feel that anything can slow him down. He falls in love with unlicensed tour guide and budding children’s book author Greta Gerwig. Cleaning up after him on a daily basis is Helen Mirren as nanny Hobson.

It seems likely an entertaining idea to watch Arthur try to get a regular job to prove that he can survive blue collar with the girl of his dreams. But even that scene is messed up. Not with character drunkenness, but with Brand’s overblown outrageousness that preordains his stint at working class efforts to become a failure. Still, this is more reasonable comedy material than watching Arthur drive a Batmobile while costumed in a bat-suit only to be locked down by police. Following his arrest with bail, Arthur picks up an anonymous skanky woman who is too imperceptive to notice that he has a levitating bed made possible by a powerful electronic magnetic field.

In an attempt to boost tension, Nick Nolte is effective as the no-bulls multi-millionaire dad who busts Brand’s chops because he wants him to propose to his daughter Garner properly. Nolte is the only actor who really intimidates Brand on-screen, enough to shush him for a moment or two. Although in estimation Garner does everything she can to put Brand’s proverbial balls in a vice. Nolte and Garner see the marriage as a business arrangement, a merger between corporate families, and see a need to correct this buffoon’s public behavior. This isn’t love.

Certainly it is a presentation of love when Arthur takes his semi-secret girl Naomi (Gerwig, from “Greenberg”) on a date at Grand Central Station after he’s rented it out, cutting off the public. For dinner, he arranges Pez Dispensers to be served on a platter. Gerwig, with her pleasing Bambi purity, doesn’t have to prove her genuine and sanguine personality to anyone except Mirren, who has a testy and judgmental exterior that needs sanded down. If you win the nanny’s acceptance than you win the childish man, seems to be the answer.

But dumb scenes win out, such as when Gerwig comes to Brand’s Fifth Avenue high rise penthouse for a date but an inebriated wildcat Garner is looking for aggressive sex play with Brand in the bedroom. Why doesn’t he just take Gerwig by the arm and leave right away, and why doesn’t he just tell her that he’s in an impending arranged marriage? To force an obligatory conflict when it becomes too late, that’s why. And whenever there is a forced poignant scene it must be followed by two or three more consecutively, as if we aren’t trusted that we get the message the first time.

This is a remake of the charming, effortless 1981 “Arthur” with Dudley Moore and the dry and sardonic John Gielgud as the butler Hobson. What Moore made credible was his notch of perpetual drunkenness that made self-transformation into a seeming impossible hurdle – he was too out of it to think his way out of a correctible predicament. Brand is too much like an MTV emcee who might even get funnier with another shot of alcohol down the hatch. And the remake seems to be the very definition of laborious, the opposite of effortless as well as the opposite of lighthearted.

110 Minutes. Rated PG-13.

COMEDY / LAME JOKES / WEEKEND PARTY GAME RIDICULE

Film Cousins: “Arthur” (1981); “Sabrina” (1995); “Bad Santa” (2003); “Get Him to the Greek” (2010).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.

 

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