Arthur: Reviewed in Limerick
A parentless drunk spending money,
Is a rather cold theme that’s made sunny,
But it requires no thinking,
A good watch after drinking,
Just a shame he couldn’t buy jokes more funny.
Check out more at www.thelimerickreview.com
To be honest, I walked into Authur with pretty poor expectations – so I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t entirely suck. I wouldn’t go as far to say it was good, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
There were definitely funny moments, which came entirely from Russell Brand’s eccentric charm and odd-ball behaviour rather than the script supporting him.
I have never seen the ’81 original, starring Dudley Moore, so my review is entirely based on the remake as a standalone film. But then again, I am pretty sure they’ve already remade it once back in 1995, with a film called Billy Madison.
In similar fashion to Adam Sandler’s character, Brand plays an immature billionaire who is forced to take on adult responsibilities in order to inherit his parent’s fortune. But instead of trying to prove his worth by overcoming academic achievements, Arthur is given the challenge of overcoming a self-inflicted addiction to alcohol.
But the main reason it’s so hard to feel sorry for this character, is that he’s still an ignorant wanker even when he’s not drinking.
Scriptwriter Peter Baynham completely fails to make us feel any sympathy what so ever, because of the fact that Arthur couldn’t help himself even if he didn’t have a drinking problem.
For example, in order to impress the girl of his dreams, Arthur arranges for New York’s Grand Central Station to be temporarily closed down; delaying every single train and passenger for 45 minutes.
I’m not sure if the romance is lost on me but if I was that girl, I would get the feeling that I’m dating a selfish jerk with no moral sense or regard for how the real world operates.
And its things like this that ruin the image Greta Gerwig paints for herself. Similar to Cameron Diaz or Zooey Deschanel, Gerwig creates an off-centre love interest with the perfect mix of cutesy and goofy – however it’s all ruined here because of the mere fact that she falls for such a moron.
For someone so seemingly charitable and kind-natured, how can she possibly fall for someone who is chauffeured around by a nanny at 35? Seriously, this is a man who needs to be told to wash his own dick in the bath! It begs the question whether her motivation really is the money or she’s just not all there in the head herself.
Apart from the obvious flaws of the main character, Brand has fun with the scenery around him. While director Jason Winer tries to find laughs with a huge toy chest of props (including everything from a Batman suit, giant gummy-bear suit, magnetic bed and Darth Vader helmet), the best lines are actually Brand’s childish observations of people and the situations he finds himself in.
The reason Brand was so appealing in Forgetting Sarah Marshall (not so much in Get Him To The Greek), was that Jason Segal didn’t try and justify the character’s care-free behaviour or rationale.
And that’s really part of Brand’s appeal, both in film and real life. Unfortunately, it’s all lost with Arthur because they try so hard to make us sympathise with his situation.
I can’t even comprehend what made Helen Mirren take on the role of his menopausal Mary Poppins-style nanny, Hobson. During the entire first half of the film she comes across as cold and bitter, and then suddenly a complete u-turn takes place and Hobson becomes the caring mother-figure he’d always needed. It just seems a bit strange considering she didn’t show any real compassion or even try and guide Arthur at the start – she genuinely seemed to despise him.
Jennifer Garner is perfect in her role, which I think just means that she wasn’t given enough screen-time to annoy me as usual. And with every scene that Nick Nolte was in, I often found myself anxiously anticipating a stroke or fatal heart attack. He's not looking too good these days.
I have no idea why the studios would ever think we could sympathise with a drunken brat, especially one who throws away his money so carelessly.
It would have been more beneficial for the character to begin as an ordinary, out-of-work alcoholic, who unexpectedly receives a large sum of money. That way, at least his money could become the thing that helps him turn his life around.
Instead, we’re presented with an immature alcoholic who’s never had to work a day in his life, who is eventually confronted with the choice between love and his fortune. To make things worse, after initially choosing the money and then attempting to buy love, he gets both anyway. So in the end, Arthur really hasn’t learnt a damn thing!
I guess in the end, the film is a mess but it’s not a complete disaster. While it fails to establish characters or a plot that the audience can care for, it does provide a few genuine laughs and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Apart from the massive running time, this is the type of no-brainer that is good to watch with a hangover.