MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
In this remake of the 1981 Oscar-winning film, Russell Brand plays Arthur Bach, an alcoholic, womanizing heir to a billion dollar fortune. His mother plans to marry him off to another successful family, and she threatens him with taking away his inheritance if he doesn’t follow through with it. Unfortunately, Arthur falls in love with a charming girl from Queens and has to make some difficult decisions between love and money.
WHAT I LIKED
I’ll admit that I’m not a huge Russell Brand fan. But I’m not a hater, either. Taken in small doses, he can be rather funny. And while I much prefer him as a supporting character in films like “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” he wasn’t totally repulsive in “Get Him to the Greek.” And after watching this remake of the Dudley Moore film, I found myself enjoying his performance. Beyond having an okay reaction to the film in the theaters, I found that I did enjoy it even more on Blu-ray. Maybe Russell Brand is just made for the smaller screen.
Part of my fondness for this film comes from the fact that I do not hold the original movie in high regard. I never saw it in the 80s, but I watched it back in April when this remake first came out. I just found Dudley Moore irritating… more so than some people find Russell Brand irritating today. In fact, aside from John Gilguid’s performance in the 1981 film, there wasn’t a whole lot I liked about it… down to the all-too-easy ending.
Maybe Russell Brand’s lot in life is to play raging substance abusers who eventually are redeemed at the end of the film. After all, he does a great job doing it here. And the cast is pretty solid for this movie, including surprisingly well-played supporting roles from Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Nick Nolte and Luiz Guzman. Of course, like the original film, it is the role of Hobson (this time played brilliantly by Helen Mirren) that steals the show.
As much as I would have liked to have been sour to this film, I was just charmed by it. Brand’s brand of Arthur is more charming than his loveable but too-crass character of Aldous Snow in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek.” There’s a loveability to Arthur that I think Brand captured even more than Moore did in the original.
It’s not to be taken seriously, but it’s a sweet film, and it has plenty of laughable moments.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The biggest problem with this movie is that it doesn’t work in today’s world the way it did in the early 80s. Back then, alcoholism was fun. Drunks were the life of the party. There was no push for recovery or for a character to join AA.
But those times have changed. So many elements to films from the 80s (from Bill and Ted calling each other “fag” in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” to Biff’s attempted sexual assault on Lorraine in “Back to the Future”) are downright offensive now. Same goes for Arthur and his drinking.
This results in a shoehorned redemption for the character, which changes the flavor of the film quite a bit from the original. But then again… I wasn’t a big fan of the original, anyway.
The Blu-ray is relatively slim with special features. There are some laughs to be found, at least, with a gag reel, ten minutes of deleted scenes and the featurette “Arthur Unsupervised!” which features alternative takes, line-o-ramas and additional set photos.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Those who don’t mind the original given a modern face-lift.