Arthur Review: Branded A Failure
Presumably the project that will be best remembered for putting a timely end to Russell Brand’s Hollywood aspirations, it is gleefully ironic that Arthur bursts onto screen with a car crash (involving the very same Batmobile from the equally abominable Batman & Robin) and then proceeds to morph into one, a traffic jam of misfired gags piled up in its wake. Strewn among the wreckage lie the twisting remains of the innocent casualties cruelly cast into this limp vehicle, the likes of Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig and Luis Guzmán lucky to escape with only minor cuts and bruises. Jennifer Garner wasn’t so lucky – doctors will have to wait until her next movie before anyone can comment on a full recovery.
A remake of the film which famously cemented Dudley Moore’s Hollywood credentials, it is arguable Brand saw a similar opportunity to stretch his legs in the American market. However, any remote charm the original had (which I personally did not enjoy) is ominously absent in this glossy, underwritten and poorly constructed comedy which ought to have been played as an outright farce but settles for being farcical itself.
Arthur (Russell Brand) is the epitome of unrelenting self-indulgence, a perpetual adolescent still being cared for by his long-suffering nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren), otherwise left to fritter away his fortune in a luxurious Manhattan penthouse, a bottle of champagne permanently pressed to his lips. Reluctantly persuaded to marry Susan (Jennifer Garner) in order to secure the future of his mother’s (Geraldine James) estate, Arthur falls in love with the endearingly poor Naomi (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring illustrator and author who represents an opportunity for him to forego the trappings of wealth and dispense with his enormous vanity.
Hilarity doesn’t ensue, the running time devoted to Brand’s unique take on the English language and desperately elaborate set pieces that even the lowest common denominator or romantic comedies tend to sneer at. A life threatening illness pumped in at the end does little to resuscitate such an ill-conceived remake, content to flat-line from start to finish.
The nagging question surrounding Arthur is thus: Why would Hollywood producers think it wise to award Brand his own film? Whilst his previous major screen appearances have included the financially successful Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek, neither of those films particularly stand out because of Brand. Indeed, the only memorable performance in GHTTG was Puff Daddy’s outrageous cameo as a junked up record executive. It was therefore inevitable that Brand would crumble as a leading actor, his pitiful lack of screen presence left woefully naked in a central role.
Unforgivably dull, Arthur is, at best, an unmitigated flop, a complete balls-up, to quote one of Brand’s favoured innuendos. One hopes, for Brand’s sake, that his career trajectory doesn’t go on to ape Dudley Moore’s but he has done nothing to convince there is anything else worthwhile seeing.