We all know Dudley Moore’s infamous performance as Arthur in the 1981 original. He was a spoilt, rich, man-child who had no grasp on the real world, and this is exactly what Russell Brand’s character, Arthur, in the 2011 version of this film is like. Unfortunately, because we’ve already seen this character 20 years ago, the fondness to Brand’s acting isn’t there. The reason the original will always override the remake is because you’ve experienced the exciting magic of a new character before. But this doesn’t make the 2011 version a bad film, it just makes it less appealing.
Brand has this incredible way to hold an audience. He’s intriguing to watch and mesmerising to listen to. He’s perfectly English with a cockney twist, and suits the role as Arthur perfectly. However, as you’re watching him, you can only feel it is an impression of Moore’s performance. It is a nice break from seeing Brand play a drug/alcohol addict though. He’s childlike persona is fun and carefree, and when put against the other characters in this film, it’s a strong presence on screen.
Speaking of other characters, they are what turns this film from bad to bearable. Helen Mirren (Hobson) is beautiful, elegant, charming and completely charismatic. She and Brand blend so smoothly together, and as they say, opposites do attract. From watching these two play off each other, you can see the chemistry and fun they must have had on set. Greta Gerwig (Naomi) is also lovely to watch. She’s the right balance between kooky and smart to make her the perfect co-star to Brand. To have these two characters in Arthur’s life, they balance out his dominant persona, keep him grounded and provide other levels to this relatively carefree film. What also provides this is Jennifer Garner’s (Susan) naughty yet sophisticated character who frankly wants money and will do anything for it, which makes Arthur seem almost sensible.
The levels of comedy vary from Arthur’s obvious punchlines, Jennifer’s slapstick approach, and the typical foreign man not understand things from Bitterman (Luis Guzman). We also watch as Gerwig and Brand have a knowledge of vocabulary speak-off with each other, making their conversations golden. We are given ridiculously childish scenes, which are extended in the special features on the DVD. We watch as Arthur puts on various fancy dress costumes, see as Naomi discovers the opposite worlds between her and Arthur, and cringe at statements made towards Hobson.
But it’s not all fun and games, there is a strong sentimental bond between Arthur and his two girls which shows his dependability. The final few scenes prove Brand’s acting abilities, giving him a sentimental touch which almost brings a tear to the eye. It ends with a nice conclusion as you would imagine, bringing the whole experience to a relatively satisfying end.
It’s not groundbreaking or as good as the original, but it’s still a light-hearted fun watch. If you’re a Brand fan you’re bound to be pulled in by the cover of the DVD, and then be pleasantly surprised with the outcome. If you’re not, then maybe you might want to just watch the original.
Arthur is available to buy and rent here.