Russell Brand in Arthur (2011)

Arthur 2.0

Arthur (Russell Brand) didn't have the best upbringing, okay so with a family with money he didn't go without but his mother, Vivienne (Geraldine James), wasn't exactly what you would call maternal with Arthur cared for by his nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren). It might explain why having entered adulthood he has become an alcoholic with an utter disregard for money as he has bucket loads. But with such disregard he frequently makes press headlines for the wrong reasons and having grown tired of his exploits Vivienne gives him an ultimatum, marry the socially acceptable Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or be cut off. Having agreed to ask Susan to marry him Arthur meets Naomi (Gret Gerwig) someone who is normal compared to him and his friends who despite being good for him does not please his mother.

Despite accepting that remakes are a way of life it doesn't stop me from occasionally getting annoyed when they announce another remake of a movie from my childhood. And I have to admit that when they announced they were going to remake "Arthur" with the often off putting Russell Brand in the lead my feelings bordered on horrified. But I have to say, with a slight air of begrudgingly, that "Arthur" with Russell Brand is actually pretty decent even if it doesn't work in exactly the same way as the original.

Helen Mirren in Arthur (2011)

Now what makes this version of "Arthur" work is Russell Brand as his delivery, that aspect of almost disregard for what he is saying or the way he is acting works so well. But he gives him a likeable playfulness to all his misbehaving which means that whilst there is this disregard there is no intentional nastiness to his actions. I can't believe I am going to say this but Russell Brand is incredibly likeable as Arthur, less of a drunken sot and more of just an irresponsible young man with a tender heart.

The thing is that Russell Brand is so good at being this Arthur that those around him don't make the same impact as you expect with Helen Mirren not delivering the Hobson which I expected. This is where this version of "Arthur" differs to the original because Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud had chemistry and managed to bring out the tender side of their characters and that for me was missing from this update which clearly puts more focus on the fun than the emotion. Yes it does manage to hit a touching note but before that the chemistry isn't quite there.

What this all boils down to is that "Arthur" with Russell Brand was better than I expected it to be, I can say that having now watched it a couple of times and laughing at some of the same jokes more than once. But for me the tenderness and chemistry of the original is lacking from this update which puts much more focus on Russell Brand and his style of comedy which in fairness works with him even delivering the tenderness when it is called for later on in the movie.