Arthur (12A)

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Review byMatthew Turner27/04/2011

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Though it will sorely test your tolerance for Russell Brand's brand of comedy, retooling Arthur to suit his talents turns out to work surprisingly well, thanks to likeable comic performances and a script that's at least consistently amusing, if never laugh-out-loud funny.

What's it all about?
Directed by Jason Winer, Arthur is a remake of the 1981 comedy and stars Russell Brand as Arthur Bach, a pampered, boozy billionaire who spends his days drunkenly chasing women and hanging out with his dopey chauffeur Bitterman (Luis Guzman) while being looked after by his long-suffering nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren). However, things seem to change for Arthur when he falls for sweet-natured, down-to-earth illegal tour guide Naomi (Greta Gerwig), but just as he starts dating her, his mother (Geraldine James) tells him she'll cut him off financially if he doesn't marry predatory property heiress Susan (Jennifer Garner).

The Good
It is fair to say that if you're not already a fan of Brand's style of comedy, then Arthur is unlikely to win you over, but his comic persona is actually surprisingly well suited to the role and he sparks great chemistry with each of his co-stars, particularly Helen Mirren, who's wonderful in the John Gielgud role and pretty much steals the film.

There's also strong comic support from Luis Guzman and Jennifer Garner (though her character really needs to be a little crazier), while Greta Gerwig is utterly adorable as Naomi, delivering a luminous performance that's probably better than the film deserves. The script settles for gently amusing rather than laugh-out-loud funny, but it's never actively awful or embarrassing, even if some of the jokes are a little too obvious. That said, it does skirt rather close to the bone with Arthur's misguided “This is what money is FOR” speech, though at least he spends his cash on sensible things like a fleet of famous movie cars.

The Bad
The film's biggest problem is that it doesn't seem all that concerned with its own plot, so it's hard to care too much about Arthur's various problems; the worst example of this occurs towards the end, when one character suddenly has an inexplicable change of heart that makes everything all right. On top of that, a freshly scrubbed Nick Nolte is both miscast and under-used, while the film also suffers from having to conform to its 12A rating.

Worth seeing?
As remakes go, this is actually fairly decent, thanks to strong comic performances and the fact that the original film wasn't all that great in the first place.

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Arthur (12A)
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Content updated: 20/04/2019 23:58

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