By KRISTEN CLOYED, CONTRIBUTOR
Admirers of the original 1981 flick written and directed by Steve Gordon might want to steer clear of the recent remake of “Arthur.” No longer filled with subtle humor, this rom-com remake is evidence of a clear generation gap.
This is director Jason Winer’s first feature film. Originally of “Modern Family” fame, Winer is known for his quick, pointed humor. The talent that has earned him a hit television series is exactly what makes this remake fall short of some high expectations.
Still, Winer’s version of “Arthur” is undeniably funny. Russell Brand plays Arthur, a childlike billionaire who, according to his nanny, is “merely shaped like an adult.” Arthur is perfectly happy living a lavish life of luxury, crashing the Batmobile while dressed as the caped superhero, strutting around donning an original Abraham Lincoln suit and entertaining women in his magnetic bed. But after years of Arthur’s heavy drinking and hard partying, his CEO mother offers him an ultimatum: marry Susan Johnson, a strict businesswoman and a suitable match, or be cut off.
The twisted plan seems foolproof until Arthur meets Naomi, played by Greta Gerwig, as she’s giving an illegal tour of the city without a permit. Faced with a chance at true love, Arthur must make a choice: marry Susan and remain rich or stay with Naomi and lose everything.
One thing “Arthur” has on its side is a cast audiences will begrudgingly love. Brand is in his element, constantly drunk and partying hard with a complete disregard for the rules. But with his quick humor and quirky antics, it’s hard not to love him. Brand’s clowning kept the audience laughing from beginning to end.
Helen Mirren is loveably tough as Arthur’s nanny, Hobson. Originally played by John Gielgud, Mirren’s portrayal is more touching than bitter. She delivers some of the movie’s best lines with both attitude and class.
Gerwig’s portrayal of Arthur’s love interest is more developed, less crass and all-around more enjoyable than the original, played by Liza Minnelli. Luis Guzman impresses as Arthur’s clueless driver and sidekick, Bitterman.
Jennifer Garner completely misses as Susan Johnson. Her interpretation of Arthur’s psycho fiancée is weird, creepy and scary all at the same time. Fortunately, hers is the only character that left a bad impression.
“Arthur” may not live up to its predecessor, but there are plenty of people who have never seen the 30-year-old original. This version of “Arthur” is updated with more childish antics and an even more lavish lifestyle. Brand’s absurdity and Mirren’s stoic stunts offer a fresh take on the box office hit.