“Arthur” (2011), a Movie Review

Remaking a movie is challenging endeavor. Every movie mogul who attempts this knows they dread on hollow ground when attempting this endeavor. If successful, the original movie’s legions of fans will return to be delighted by the remake and boost attendance and the precious DVD sales. If a poor remake is made, those same legions of fans will punish the theater managers with poor attendance, post poor reviews and wreak havoc with the film’s success. With ” Arthur “, theater owners can rest assuredly that their overpriced popcorn will be eaten and their warm soda will flow freely while this movie is in their theaters.

This remake of ” Arthur ” is a delightful movie, full of liveliness, enchanting humor and some delightful improvisational work by Russell Brand. This movie surpasses my expectations with flying colors as a movie within its own making. Nonetheless, as a movie remake of the original ” Arthur “, it fails to live up to the drunken expectations established by the late Dudley Moore and the mocking, cutting, dry humor of the late Sir John Gielgud.

I did not think Russell Brand could come off as a leading man. I was wrong. Mr. Brand runs away and steals this movie and leaves behind a critic wanting more. Cast in his finest role to date, Mr. Brand’s English charm is allowed to take over the screen in a way that has not been seen since, well, Dudley Moore. Brand is wonderful to watch, his physical acting is excellent and every five minutes he delights the audience with his million dollar smile. Mr. Brand has become the total movie package for our generation and is on his way to being the biggest thing in movies out of the Island kingdom since Sean Connery.

Helen Mirren, cast in the role of Hoskins, Arthur’s nanny, fails to deliver the full condescending, sarcastic, experience that Sir. John Gielgud created in the original ” Arthur “. This does not say that Mrs. Mirren delivered a poor performance; on the contrary, she excelled in her character role as she always does. Mrs. Mirren was just not provided enough quality writing and opportunities to steal the scenes away from Mr. Brand as Sir John Gielgud was able to do with Dudley Moore. This was a disappointment and the one blemish of this movie.

The director should have stayed true to the original movie and allowed a male actor to serve as Arthur’s guardian. Helen Mirren was simply to paternalistic in this role, she cared for her charge which was obvious, however she cared with a mother’s perspective. In the original movie, Sir John Gielgud elevated himself to a position more akin to a guardian angel than a father figure. And, he kept that distance and position throughout the movie very clear and in doing so keeping his relationship boundaries with Arthur very obvious. Not so with Mrs. Mirren.

I was very glad to see Nick Nolte back on the attack and getting some screen time, but shocked at his performance. One of the more powerful actors of the 1980’s, he has now been reduced to playing small roles with little opportunity for him to command the screen as he once did. Nolte does not appear well in this movie preforming as Burt Johnson, the father of Susan. Nolte’s performance seems to indicate that something was or is physically amiss with him.

Nolte could have taken a stronger, more energetic role in this movie, and shown audiences he is ready to step back in and dominate the big screen. Why he chose to let this opportunity slip away is known only to him, but if Nolte’s acting in this film is any indicator of his future work ethic, we may be looking at the end of Nolte’s film career and the loss of a truly powerful leading man.

Greta Gerwig, an up and coming starlet to the movie world, was a surprise delight in this movie. Playing the role of Naomi, which was originally played by Liza Minnelli, Gerwig is an attractive, fresh face, who displays an innocent charm about her that is so lacking in our current generation of feminine thespians. As Arthur’s love interest, Gerwig made for the perfect female counterpart to Brand’s on screen pursuits and overbearing, drunken behaviors. I can only hope she gets more work in the future.

If you need a movie for date night this is the movie to see. Men can learn a few things about women, and women can believe in their prince again. Meanwhile everyone can have a laugh.