April 12, 2011

Movie Review: Arthur (2011)

I must admit that I did not see the original Arthur until very recently. To be honest, it was just not a movie that was all ha interested in. Dudley Moore was never one of those actors that I much cared about. This is not saying anything of his talent, he certainly had that, it is just that when I say clips of him, I just never cared. I hate to say it, but I still feel that way. I guess I should say that I did enjoy the 1981 film, but it does not strike me as a classic that I will revisit all that often. That brings us to the remake, an unnecessary feature as noted by some.

Unnecessary. I seems that whenever a remake is announced, or arrives for that matter, the word unnecessary gets tossed around. It really needs to stop. You could make that argument about any movie. None of them are necessary. No movie ever made has been necessary. Still, if you flip it around you can argue the necessity of everything, which is where my heart lies. Regardless of any monetary goals (let's face it, this is a business after all) there is a creative outlet for many of those involved, despite hither you personally like it or not. In the case of this new take on Arthur, you have a talented cast who have come together to tell a story and have some fun.

Both versions of Arthur tell the same story. Arthur Bach is an incredibly rich, drunk philanderer who has never had to work a day in his life. However, he is threatened with being cut off from the money unless he agrees to an arranged marriage to Susan Johnson. He begrudgingly agrees to the arrangement. He problem is that he has also met another woman, a woman who he develops genuine feelings for, in the new version it is Naomi Quinn (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring writer who sustains herself as a bootleg tour guide.

Are there differences between the two films? Certainly. However, I am not here to discuss the changes made, I am sure there is someone out there who has analyzed that aspect. What I will say, and this may be considered blasphemy by some, is that I think I prefer this version of the story.

You already have the main thrust of the story, which, to be honest, is not all that interesting on its own. The way Arthur succeeds as a comedy is in the execution, how the story is old and in the performances. I do believe that this movie is a success. It is not a great one, but it is one that made me laugh, one that made me smile, and one that let me entertained in is wake. Sometimes that is all I need.

Arthur is no classic, but it fills a need, a need to have a fun time with a movie. This is not about uncovering some great truth about he human condition, it is about watching a drunk comically battle his demons, spend a lot of money and fall In love with someone who makes him want to be a better person. It is, at its heart, a story about growing up and discovering who you really are. Nothing new, fresh, or groundbreaking.

It is told well. I may no break any new ground, but it is entertaining. I liked watching Arthur fighting the bottle, giving in to the bottle, and struggling to come to terms with what his mother wants of him and what he really wants. It is no always an easy balance to strike and it leads to some nicely comical moments as the battle rages on.

Russell Brand was an inspired choice to take on the title role. It has been said that he is no Dudley Moore, and that is very true, he isn't, he is Russell Band. Why would you want him to be anyone else? I understand that some people don't like him, so be it. I do. I think his over the top personality fits the role like a glove. He has dome great mannerisms, reactions, and line delivery that just makes me laugh. On top of that, his chemistry with Greta Gerwig is quite good. She plays a genuinely nice person and she does see through the liquor.

Even more important than Arthur and Naomi is Arthur and Hobbson. This is a relationship that is surprisingly emotional. Helen Mirren does a great job in the nanny role (played by John Gielgud in the original). It is just a lot of fun to watch these two characters interact.

The rest of the cast is pretty good. Jennifer Garner is wonderfully manipulative as Susan. Then there is Geraldine James as Arthur's mother, Vivienne. What to say about her? Quite a mother. Nick Nolte has a great scene involving a table saw. Last but not least is Luis Guzman as Arthur's faithful driver, these two share a few great scenes.

Overall, this is a fun movie. I smiled, I laughed, I chuckled. It is a movie better than many will give it credit for. I say give it a shot, you may find that you like it.


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