Movie Reviews - 07/04


What a week of openings! The big dilemma is trying to decide which is more unfunny: "Arthur" or "Your Highness." This may have to be settled by a coin toss. Here's what the team that made "Arthur" might have been thinking in remaking the terrific 1981 version which starred Dudley Moore and John Gielgud: Our society has become more vulgar, less literate, more attuned to comedy that's shoved on them rather than to the wit and gentle humor that presumably fit in better with bygone days, like the seventies and early eighties.

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(Photo: Russell Brand in Arthur 2011. Courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment © 2010)

Warner Bros

Reviewed for Arizona Reporter
by Harvey Karten

Grade: D
Directed By: Jason Winer
Written By: Peter Baynham, story by Steve Gordon
Cast: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner
Screened at: E-Walk, NYC, 4/6/11
Opens: April 8, 2011

As a result of this thinking, who better to play a vulgarian, an infantile billionaire without the least bit of charm and wit but with a whole lot of pushiness and coarseness than Russell Brand, who looks so greasy that he should be confined to doing voice-overs for movies like "Hop." On second thought, Brand, just as obnoxious as the time he played Aldous Snow in Nicholas Stoller's "Get Him to the Greek," may be just what our contemporary public is looking for.

But let's hope I'm wrong.

The story is similar to the Dudley Moore version directed with whimsy and charm and class by Steve Gordon. Like Gordon's Arthur, Jason Winer's is a drunk, but he's the kind of drunk you want to stay away from. He looks threatening, he appears dangerous, while Dudley Moore never did. One of the chief differences between the two versions is that Arthur 2 has a magnetic bed that floats without apparent support, an actual $1.5 million dollar item that is said to be the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere. The bed does make for a reasonable bit of physical comedy when Arthur's drunk fiance become attracted to it, which is good for her because she is not particularly attracted to Arthur but to his status with his mother's company.

Arthur's mother (Geraldine James) wants to further her business by convincing investors that her son is not the clown the press makes him out to be. She insists that he marry the wealthy Susan (Jennifer Garner) or face disinheritance, specifically the loss of $950 million. Will love conquer all when Arthur, resisting these nuptials, falls for girl-next-door Naomi Quinn (Greta Gerwig), whose job as an unlicensed tour guide with a specialty of Grand Central Terminal is insufficient for moving out of her pre-war apartment overlooking the New York elevated transit system?

A memorable frame for the picture shows Arthur driving the Batmobile flames spewing out of the exhaust which lead to the inevitable chase by police cars. The dialogue is less memorable. When he emerges from the vehicle dressed as Batman and his chauffeur (Luis Guzman) joins as Robin, the chauffeur warns that they're going to a black-tie function. Arthur looks as his Bat costume and replies, "This is black." And there is some class to the picture, all of which provided by Helen Mirren as Hobson, the nanny, in a role that makes you wonder why this incredible talent who embraced the role of the current British monarch in Peter Morgan's vastly more delicate and impressive "The Queen," would stoop to being the woman who tries to keep Arthur on some semblance of an adult track. Thinking nothing of popping in while he is having sex or in the bathtub, insisting that he wash his "winkie" is simply beneath contempt. When Hobson falls ill with a disease that's not explored or prepared for, she and Arthur switch roles, the billionaire taking care of her and acting like an adult for the first time. However these moments are more Hallmark than honestly sympathetic. Nor is there a line of Peter Baynham's dialogue that's likely to be remembered.

Rated PG-13. 110 minutes. © 2011 Harvey Karten Member: NY Film Critics Online.

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