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Arthur Review Starring Russell Brand, Jennifer Garner, and Helen Mirren

Arthur: More Fun the Second Time Around

Jason Winer's Arthur is a remake of a 1981 film starring Dudley Moore, but how you feel about the original (or even if you haven't seen it at all) won't have much effect on your enjoyment of the 2011 version. In this fresh take, Brand plays Arthur, a filthy rich heir who never grew up because he never had to. Arthur spends the majority of his days and nights wasting his millions on whatever and whomever he sees fit, pretending he's Batman, and drinking as much Maker's Mark as is humanly possible. With his nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) there to clean up all of his messes, Arthur has no reason to abandon his carefree lifestyle and settle down.

When his mother hands him an ultimatum, Arthur is forced to make the first adult decision of his life: he can either marry Susan (Jennifer Garner), a tightly wound business executive whom Arthur has no romantic interest in, or he can lose his entire fortune and find out how the other half lives. The situation is made more complicated when Arthur falls head over heels for Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a girl from Queens who works as a tour guide of Manhattan and has big dreams of becoming an author.

Brand is known for playing outlandish characters like Forgetting Sarah Marshall's Aldous Snow, and he doesn't stray too far outside the realm in Arthur. As he gallivants around town in top hats and powder blue suits, his Arthur is yet another hard-partying character with a quick wit and enough one-liners to put Ricky Gervais to shame. The difference is that Brand brings a certain child-like innocence to Arthur that not only gives him depth, but makes him endearing as well. Arthur is a silly (and self-serving) character through and through, but with Brand's charm, you can't help but root for him and enjoy being part of his hijinks.

To find out what else works in the film, just read more.

Brand has a worthy partner in crime in Helen Mirren. Hobson's acid tongue is the perfect counterpart to Arthur's wacky antics, and the banter between Mirren and Brand is like an exercise in perfected British humor. Their chemistry isn't limited to swapping jabs either; there's a true connection between these two that translates to the tender scenes between them, and ultimately legitimizes the film's underlying themes of family, love, and loneliness.

Garner breaks out of her typical girl-next-door role as Susan, and watching her desperately try to sink her claws into Arthur is a refreshing change of pace for the actress. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Gerwig, who's essentially swallowed up by her more domineering costars and fails to really bring Naomi and Arthur's romance to fruition. Brand works just fine as a one-man show, but his scenes with Gerwig eventually drag down the entire film.

Director Winer tries just a little too hard to pack an emotional punch into Arthur, which can be hard to swallow when you're dealing with a cast of caricatures. It's mindless fun to come along for a ride in Arthur's Batmobile, and though there are some bumps in the road, you'll still laugh along the way.


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