x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Arthur

Why remake this entertaining movie, which originally starred Dudley Moore? The answer is not to be found in Russell Brand's performance.

Nick Nolte, left, as Burt Johnson, Russell Brand as Arthur, centre, and Jennifer Garner in the remake of Arthur.
Nick Nolte, left, as Burt Johnson, Russell Brand as Arthur, centre, and Jennifer Garner in the remake of Arthur.

Arthur
Director: Jason Winer
Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner
**

Remakes are often wrong, simply on principal, and Arthur is no different. It's not just that. In an age of economic hardship, a film about a spendthrift billionaire seems a little tasteless. Or that his alcohol dependency is played for laughs ("It's like unhappy hour," he says, while briefly attending an AA meeting). This, after all, was what made the Dudley Moore original so appealing, thanks to its star's effervescent charm. Here we have Russell Brand, who - for all his skills as a comic - just isn't cuddly Dudley. From his stand-up routines to his rock-star persona seen in Get Him to the Greek, Brand trades in the rude and raw. So putting him in a soft-centred film, with a cutesy romance and PG-rated jokes, is bound to be problematic. Still, keeping Brand on a leash is nowhere near as offensive as casting Helen Mirren as Arthur's nanny Hobson (played in the original by John Gielgud). You have to wonder just what entered her mind during some scenes. At least the original story - Arthur must marry Susan (Jennifer Garner) or lose his fortune - has been kept intact. There's even a watchable turn from Greta Gerwig, as the tour guide our hero falls for, while Nick Nolte finds some mileage as Susan's mildly psychotic father. But with a script this timid, only the most devout Brand fans should get in line.

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