Arthur fails to take off
Let’s just say you’re on a flight from LAX to JFK. You’ve got 5 hours and your laptop battery is halfway dead. Then the flight attendants hand out the headphones and tell you your in-flight entertainment will be the remake of Arthur, starring Russell Brand. Or maybe it’s late on a work night and you just can’t fall asleep, so you flip on HBO and you see Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner in this light rom-com, so you stick around and watch the rest of the film. In those scenarios, you’d be happy with Arthur and feel satisfied as the credits rolled. You might not feel the same if you plunked down $20 plus parking to see a movie that’s rather mundane, despite it’s talented stars.
Brand is Arthur Bach, an immature playboy whose wealth has allowed him to indulge his every fantasy, from crashing the Batmobile to shutting down Grand Central Station to impress a girl.
When Arthur’s crazy antics get to be a little too public, his cold and distant mother (Geraldine James) threatens to cut him off if he doesn’t agree to settle down and marry successful businesswoman Susan, played by Jennifer Garner. But, oh no, Arthur doesn’t love Susan. He loves Naomi (Greta Gerwig), the poor aspiring children’s book author from Queens whom he met on one of his money-hemorrhaging jaunts about town.
With the help of his best friend and long-time nanny Hobson (Mirren), Arthur must learn to grow up, take on responsibility and take care of himself for a change before he can get the girl.
It’s no secret that I love Russell Brand. He was absolutely perfect as Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek and he always brings his unique swagger to every role. If he weren’t so quick and charismatic, Arthur would barely be watchable. His scenes with Mirren are some of the funniest in the film and his obvious ad libs make the writing seem a little less cliche.
Praise is also due to Gerwig, a relative unknown in this cast of familiar faces. Maybe it’s because, unlike with Garner’s character, they actually gave Naomi a bit more of a personality. She’s quirky and awkward, but caring and easy going as opposed to the one-dimensional Cruella DeVille caricature they handed to poor Garner.
As a fan of Brand, my concern with Arthur is typecasting. We always see him playing eccentric British celebrity who can get any girl and does everything to excess until he finally learns a life lesson in the end. And that’s ok–Brand is great in those roles–but will audiences grow tired of these similar characters? At least the Aldous Snow movies are made by filmmakers who know how to appreciate some good improvisation. These movies follow the Kanye West philosophy of “let me be great!” and let their stars come up with killer jokes in the moment. A comedic mind like Brand’s is wasted on a weak and cliche script.
Basically, you’ll be content about the movie while you’re waiting for your luggage at baggage claim, but if you’re walking to your car from a movie theater, you might feel a bit shortchanged.