Release date: 21 April 2011
Yes it’s the remake of the original 1981 rom-com Arthur which was directed by Steve Gordon and starred Dudley Moore as rich, boozy playboy Arthur Bach. This 2011 version directed by Jason Winer features Russell Brand as the title character. His mother Vivienne (Geraldine James) sick of wild ways demands that Arthur marry social climbing heiress, Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or lose his multimillion dollar inheritance. Torn between his love for working class, Naomi (Greta Gerwig) and the trappings of money, he turns to his long suffering nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren) for guidance.
The problem when you remake an original film is the inevitable comparison. More often than not the original is better, so why remake it? However this is pitched at a whole new audience, twenty years on, who wouldn’t have heard of Dudley Moore but will relate to the latest man-child on the block, Russell Brand aka Katy Perry’s husband. To relate to this audience,writer Peter Baynham has made a few changes to the story such as Arthur appears more altruistic giving money to the poor and undertaking charity work, a far cry from the greed is good mantra of the eighties. Also the butler character played by Sir John Gielgud is transformed into nanny Hobson in a ploy to further sympathise with his hedonistic lifestyle as a reaction to an absent mother and loss of his father at an early age.
I am not a Brand (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) fan and find most of his characterisations flatulent, and though understandably he continues to be stereotyped it was a good casting choice. He manages to be an endearing alcoholic with a heart of gold with the help of his funny sidekick Bitterman (Luis Guzman) and great support from Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig (Greenberg). Gerwig is the shining light in this remake and believable as Brand’s quirky love interest. Jennifer Garner (Juno) does a reasonable portrayal as the nasty, scheming fiancé. Unrecognisable, Nick Nolte makes a cameo appearance as Susan’s macho overprotective father.
If you haven’t seen the original you will find this surprisingly funny and charming under the beautiful NYC backdrop. One criticism is that the ending is overdrawn in attempting to over punctuate the romantic element. If you have seen the original and have to make comparisons you might be disappointed.