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Movie Review: Arthur

April 8, 2011

Arthur – A Warner Bros. Pictures’ Release

Release Date: April 8th

Rated PG for sexual content, language may offend

Running time: 110 minutes


Jason Winer (dir.)


Peter Baynham (screenplay)

Steve Gordon (story)


Based on the 1981 film, Arthur, by Steve Gordan


Theodore Shapiro (music)


Russell Brand as Arthur

Helen Mirren as Hobson

Greta Gerwig as Naomi

Jennifer Garner as Susan

Geraldine James as Vivienne

Luis Guzmán as Bitterman

Nick Nolte as Burt Johnson

John Hodgman as Candy Store Manager


(L-r) RUSSELL BRAND as Arthur and HELEN MIRREN as Hobson in Warner Bros. Pictures’ romantic comedy “ARTHUR,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.


Photo by Barry Wetcher


Our reviews below:


Arthur Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Arthur is an example of a comedy that works reasonably well on its own terms.  The script allows for some genuinely funny scenes, with Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig making for an appealing trio of leads.  But it is also a film that doesn’t entirely work, merely because it has already been done in the superior 1981 film of the same title on which it is based.


Arthur Bach (Brand) is a drunken billionaire playboy still living with his nanny, Hobson (Mirren), in New York City.  When he finds himself in Grand Central Terminal for the first time in his life, he falls for the intriguing Naomi (Gerwig).  But his mother, Vivienne (Geraldine Jones) has already threatened to cut him off from his billion dollar inheritance if he doesn’t marry the controlling gold digger, Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner).


Brand is in top form as he puts his own take on the title character who was iconically played by Dudley Moore in the 1981 classic.  Mirren makes a smooth transition from butler to nanny, paying homage to John Gielgud’s Oscar-winning work in the original.  Gerwig is a welcome addition to the cast, playing a version of the character originally made famous by Liza Minnelli.  Along with a more serious approach to Arthur’s alcohol addiction, these are the things that I liked about this remake.


But it isn’t enough to save director Jason Winer’s remake from being an uneven film.  Jennifer Garner is miscast and her character’s genuinly nasty streak could have used a serious rewrite.  Nick Nolte is horribly off playing her father, especially in a poorly misjudged early scene where he threatens Arthur with a table saw.  The humour here is also broader and more physical than it was in 1981, and it feels a touch long at 110-minutes.


Burt Bacharach’s wonderful theme song from the original is reprised at the very end of the credits, but the sped up cover by rising band Fitz and the Tantrums just isn’t the same.  Like the movie, it works reasonably well on its own merits, but can’t entirely because it has already been done better.  Still, this new Arthur delivers some big laughs and has enough going for it to make it worth a look, but only alongside the original.


Arthur Review by Erin V.

*** (out of 4)

In this remake of the 1981 Arthur, we get to see Russell Brand in the title role (originally held by Dudley Moore).  The story premise is pretty much the same – drunken playboy Arthur Bach is told that if he wants to keep his fortune, he must marry the woman whom his mother chooses will be the best ‘business partner’ for him.  But just on the cusp of his engagement, Arthur falls in love with a non-wealthy woman from Queens.  Arthur is quite immature though, and still lives with a nanny (Helen Mirren) and a lot of the story centers on this as well.  This is another difference from the original, in which Arthur lived with his butler.  This change provides a different feel and while both are valid storytelling choices, I was in some ways glad this was not just a copy of the 80’s film which would have really felt pointless.


At times, it does copy scenes or lines from the original, but often, it takes a different, even refreshing turn.  The parts of this film that make it worth seeing in my opinion, is the interactions between Arthur and Naomi (Greta Gerwig), the woman he falls in love with, as well as Arthur’s interactions with Hobson, and with his chauffeur.  What I didn’t like at all was Jennifer Garner’s version of Susan, nor her father (Nick Nolte).


Having just watched the original Arthur (which was re-released on Blu-ray this past Tuesday), it was an interesting comparison.  In many ways those that watch this one at a further distance or as a stand-alone may enjoy it more, although I will say this.  Compared to a lot of rom-coms these days, this is by no means one of the worst.  It kept the light tone of the original there, while refreshing it for what are today’s audience’s theatre standards.  It is enjoyable for the most part, pretty much due to Russell Brand, and will be probably well received at the box office.


Arthur Review by Nicole

*** (out of 4)

Thirty years ago, Dudley Moore starred in a witty comedy about a lovable billionaire named Arthur.  The film, named after Arthur, became a classic.  Now, Arthur has been remade as a modern-day story.  In this updated version, Russell Brand stars as the title hero, a lovable man-child who still lives with his nanny, Lillian Hobson (Helen Mirren).  When Arthur’s carefree ways get him into trouble, his mother makes him a deal; get married to uptight business woman Susan (Jennifer Garner), or lose his inheritance.  Problem is, Arthur doesn’t love Susan.  He falls in love with a fun-loving woman, Naomi (Greta Gerwig), who, despite being of much lover income, is an obvious better choice for him.  Now Arthur must choose between his love or his money.


While not as good as the original, this remake of Arthur keeps the same charm and innocent feel of 1980’s cinema.  Russell Brand is perfectly cast as Arthur, with the same wit as Dudley Moore.  Greta Gerwig and Helen Mirren are equally charming in their respective roles.  One main difference between the original film and the remake (which is, in my opinion, the only improvement), is that Arthur’s alcoholism is shown as a problem, as opposed to a mere eccentricity.  This is perhaps a sign of the times, with the 21st century being more health conscious than the 20th.


With very little objectionable language, relatively no violence, and no nudity, Arthur is as innocent as the title character.  With its sweet romance and likable characters, Arthur will appeal to a wide audience.


Arthur Review by Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

It’s often a risky decision to consider a remake of a classic, well-liked film from an earlier decade.  The remake in question is Arthur.  This time the title character Arthur is played by uniquely funnyman, Russell Brand.  Brand manages to put his own spin on the out-of-control, always partying billionaire man-child originally played by Dudley Moore in the 1980’s.


This 2011 Arthur follows the general storyline of the original fairly closely.  Arthur is still a spoiled man-child forced into an engagement/business arrangement to a woman he doesn’t love in return for his continuing access to his fortune.  As in the orignal, the arrangement is in jeopardy when Arthur meets and falls in love with someone else.


What works in this remake is the excellent casting choices.  Russell Brand is loveable and believably funny as Arthur.  There is far less glamorization of Arthur’s alcoholism here, allowing for a more sympathetic character.  The girl he falls in love with, Naomi, is sweetly played by Greta Gerwig.  Their romance is one of the most charming aspects of this movie.  Helen Mirren gives a solid performance as Arthur’s no-nonsense Nanny, Lillian Hobson.  The original Arthur had Hobson as a butler, a role which won Sir John Gielgud an Oscar.  Chauffeur Bitterman is nicely played by Luis Guzman in this Arthur.


What didn’t work in this film is the character of Susan, Arthur’s cold-hearted, business focused fiancee played by Jennifer Garner.  Her character and that of her creepy construction mogul father, Burt Johnson (Nick Nolte) gave a needlessly nasty tone to the movie.  The buzz-saw scene with Arthur and Burt had me cringing.  While this Arthur is funny enough in its own right, it does pale somewhat when compared to the orignal.  And did we really need a jazzed-up pop version of the original Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do) over the end credits?  The classic arrangement would have felt more like a proper homage to the original film.


Arthur is worth seeing especially for Russell Brand fans.  There are enough laughs and genuinely sweet moments to make it worth a movie night.  Just don’t expect the 1980’s original.


Arthur Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Russell Brand is Arthur, in a remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore film. Arthur is an idle playboy living on the family fortune under the care of his nanny Hobson and chauffeur Bitterman, until forced into an arranged marriage with the beautiful scion of another wealthy family, though he really loves a woman of much more modest means.


Thanks mainly to Russell Brand, the new version is a lot of fun, but with both a brilliant script and Sir John Gielgud as Hobson earning Academy Awards, the original was still better, despite its dated casual attitude toward alcoholism and drunk driving. The new film depends more on physical gags than witty lines. Helen Mirren fills in well as the new Hobson, and Greta Gerwig is as charming in her own way as Liza Minelli was in the original. However, Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte as the betrothed and her father are somewhat nastier than their earlier counterparts, while Luis Guzmán is a more goofy Bitterman, with a Batmobile and other fun rides along with the Rolls.


Overall, you won’t go wrong with Arthur (2011), and you can always go back to Arthur (1981) for a real treat.


Consensus: With appealing leading work from Russell Brand, Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig, Arthur is an uneven but entertaining comedy.  Although the 1981 classic on which it is based remains superior, audiences are sure to enjoy this modern retelling. **3/4 (Out of 4)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Kenneth cochrane permalink
    June 19, 2012 10:56 pm

    I found Arthur really entertaining


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