This remake of the 1980’s hit film, Arthur, stars Russell Brand, Jennifer Garner, Helen Mirren, and Greta Gerwig. I need to rewatch the original for a more accurate comparison, but suffice it to say, despite this film’s low critical ratings and its upper PG-13 rating, it boasts a decent message.
Russell Brand’s Arthur Bach is a childlike billionaire who is addicted to his lifestyle. Even so, he has no qualms about giving away tens of thousands of dollars on a whim. He hasn’t earned his money, he was raised by his nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren), and if he goes against his mother’s wishes by refusing to marry her crafty assistant Susan (Jennifer Garner), he’ll be disinherited. Unfortunately, Arthur seems to have fallen in love with a free-spirited poor illegal tour guide (Greta Gerwig) who helps him to get in touch with the man he should be.
That’s a poor synopsis, but the film really emphasizes a sense of responsibility. It’s not about the amount of money you have, but the way you use it. It’s a belated coming of age story in which the protagonist learns to make intelligent, mature decisions. He learns to be a man, rather than a pampered child. While there is a decent deus ex machina in the end, that doesn’t spoil the lessons learned.
This is Russell Brand’s best role; he is delightfully naive. Alongside Brand, Jennifer Garner is delightfully evil as the power-hungry, conniving bride-to-be. They have some real chemistry–fabulously twisted chemistry. Likewise, Helen Mirren does a great job keeping up with Brand’s antics, playing the straight man to his absurdity. Unfortunately, even though she was skipped over for top billing, Greta Gerwig did a great job, playing her role with real sincerity, tempering Brand’s overpowering tomfoolery. This film won’t win any awards, but it’s got real heart. It’s funny and highly outrageous–in a good way.
4 out of 5 stars