Guess what?! We see Russell Brand playing himself... again. But this time he has a slightly softer voice with his comedy toned down, which makes him seem even more childish and a bit mundane, if that’s even possible. As you can imagine, this story is somewhat boring, but oddly, there is enough essence to keep you going through the two hours of a man completely reliant on his mother’s money.
The film is of course a remake of the 1981 Arthur, whereby Dudley Moore plays this eccentric, spoilt man-child, but unfortunately this is another adaptation which doesn’t live up to the original. Russell Brand adds charm, and the modern technology serves well in the film, but there’s nothing quite like watching Moore frolic around in his giant bathtub.
What seriously lifts this film is the two main females in Arthur’s life, Hobson (Helen Mirren) and Naomi (Greta Gerwig). They turn this film from a dull lamp to a bright spotlight. Mirren is her wonderful self, adding even more British elegance than Brand - The self-proclaimed English gentleman now famous in the United States. And Gerwig adds just enough quirkiness to match up to Arthur, and make it believable that he could be attracted to a ‘poor girl from Queens.’ Brand responds well to both these characters, and all three of them play off each other perfectly.
The relationships in the film are all relatively plausible, and you can gain a sense of the connection, or in this case disconnection, with each other. This therefore adds a little sentiment to the tale being told. You do catch yourself starting to feel a tiny bit sympathetic towards certain people, but then realise the story is quite bad and snap yourself out of it. Although, I do have to admit, the sad moments are given to us VERY sadly, taking you out of this happy-go-lucky mentality, and leaning you towards the more serious side of life in an instant.
There are some entertaining moments as well, with lines that will make you chuckle. Hobson has a very dry sense of humour that contrasts against Arthur’s deliberate jokes. Jennifer Garner’s slapstick comedy approach to her ‘naughty’ character adds another level, and we get the typical ‘foreign man not understanding things’ references with the servant, Bitterman (Luis Guzman). All this and Gerwig’s use of language matching up to the walking dictionary that is Russell Brand gives that extra quality which will stop you from finding this an utterly monotonous film.
However, it just feels like another feature that will come and go again. There’s nothing that stands out, and once the film’s finished, you don’t feel emotionally effected by it. The best way to describe it is ‘neutral’.