Movie review: 'Arthur' a lifeless remake, 1.5 stars
Directed by Jason Winer
Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner
The sole stroke of inspiration in "Arthur," a remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore classic, is the decision to cast Helen Mirren as Hobson, the sassy nanny to a wealthy man-child played by Russell Brand. Most of the good will generated by Mirren is squandered, unfortunately, amid a jumble of bad dialogue and soulless pratfalls. You could call it formulaic, except that it barely even adheres to bad movie formulas.
Brand brings his trademark shtick - ceaseless, mildly witty banter - to the role of Arthur Bach, an alcoholic playboy who embarrasses his family with his highly publicized drunken antics.
When his snooty corporate mother betroths him to one of her powerhouse employees (Jennifer Garner), who has pledged to keep him under control, he's given an ultimatum: Go along with the marriage or lose the family fortune.
Even though he's falling in love with a down-to-earth gal (Greta Gerwig) from Queens, Arthur assents.
When Dudley Moore originated this role in 1981, he went down in history as one of the greatest on-screen alcoholics of all time: His drunken frolicking was funny but also tragic.
Brand is nowhere close to moving us the way Moore did 30 years ago. His inebriation is too generic. In fact, his performance is barely distinguishable from his roles in "Get Him to the Greek" and "Forgetting Sarah Marshall."
It's hard to fault Brand, though, when the script is so unfunny. You could have slotted any actor into this role and the result would have been disappointing.
The affectionate, saucy banter between Arthur and Hobson is good for an occasional laugh, but most of the movie is a rambling mess of broad jokes and gimmicks.
Director Jason Winer is a writer for "Modern Family." This is his directorial debut.
In order to film a scene that takes place in an empty Grand Central Station, Winer shot at Grand Central during a two-hour span in the middle of the night.