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For Audiences, Russell is a “Brand” Name

April 11, 2011

By John C.

Over the weekend, the box office was dominated by both a kids flick about the Easter Bunny and a comedic remake centred around a billionaire playboy.  Hop enjoyed repeat success after last weekend’s $37.5 million opening, easily coming in first with an estimated $21.7 million domestic.  Arthur narrowly edged out Hanna for the distant number 2 spot, with $12.6 million.

The most interesting thing about these two films sitting atop the box office is that it serves to confirm the surprising star power of Russell Brand.  The British comedian headlines both films, and it’s an unmistakable fact when referencing either movie’s advertising.

Hop was going to be a hit regardless, as it was the first movie to openly feature the Easter Bunny.  I didn’t hate the kids film like some critics did, but the only real entertainment value it offered for adults was Brand’s delightful vocal performance.  Even in uncharacteristically G-rated form, he had a way of upstaging the script and making nearly every line amuse on one level or another.

As for Arthur, I was personally in the camp that found the 1981 original to reign superior, but this remake has enough laughs and appealing performances to make it a worthwhile comedy.  Brand has his way with some outrageously funny lines, and gets some nice interplay with co-stars Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig.

Brand also enjoyed success last summer reprising his role as rock star Aldous Snow in the hilarious Forgetting Sarah Marshall spin-off, Get Him to the Greek.  He also supplied the voice of the elderly Dr. Nafario in the animated smash hit, Despicable Me, and had a supporting role alongside Helen Mirren in Julie Taymor’s unique take on The Tempest.

Audiences enjoy his somewhat larger than life portrayals, as he deftly mixes sharp dialogue-driven humour with the more physical moments.  Even when his raunchy comedy has been toned down, Brand still has a unique way of delivering lines and making things funnier than they would be in different hands.

The British comedian is a recovering addict of sex, drugs and alcohol, as recounted in his autobiographical “booky wooks,” My Booky Wook and Booky Wook 2: This Time it’s Personal.  His unique outlook on life and sharp commentary on the world is often appealing, even though he has managed to offend and even cross the line on certain occasions.

That Brand has used his comedic skills to overcome his addictions, arrests and mental health issues over the years has proven inspirational to a lot of people, and the fact that he is now married to pop singer Katy Perry certainly doesn’t hurt his ranking on the ladder of popularity.  The success of these two films means that audiences can expect to see a lot more of him on movie screens over the coming years.  Who knew that the edgy British comedian could so quickly become a “Brand” name.

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