Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review: Arthur (2011)

It has been slim pickings for On Demand lately. As a result of, I’ve been half-heartedly circling around three movies for some time now: “Arthur,” “Limitless,“ and "Sucker Punch." With the city being pounded by rainstorms of seemingly biblical proportions, I was forced to take the plunge. “Arthur” was the film of choice for no better reason that it begins with the letter “A” and thus required less effort to find in the On Demand menu.

This movie is another in a long line of Hollywood remakes that in no way was screaming for a refresh. The original - starring the affable Dudley Moore and the grating Liza Minnelli – was just barely entertaining enough for a 1981 B-movie punch drunk with sentimentality. The same can be said for the update, which stars Russell Brand as a drunken millionaire man-child who must make the ever-popular-in-film choice – “for love or money.”

If you liked Russell Brand’s turn and return as Aldous Snow in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” and “Get Him to the Greek,” then you will find some entertainment value here as clearly Jason Winer has directed him to play the same character only with the juvenile-factor amped up ten fold. You spend half the movie waiting for Jonah Hill, Jason Segel, or any other Judd Apatow cohort to walk on screen at any moment.

The straight man to Brand’s man-child follies stands in the form of a nanny played by Helen Mirren. Despite the fact that this project was an obvious cash grab for the accomplished actress, she reminds us that she does in fact know how to act. Her thawing in a lot of ways mirrored my own as I watched the movie; eventually succumbing to the inevitable swelling of sentimentality that marks the third act. As for the rest of the cast, Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte’s respective characters are absolute clich├ęs and Greta Gerwig, as the down-to-earth love interest, does a very poor man’s imitation of Zooey Deschanel.

I would not recommend you go out of your way to see this movie. Put it on your Netflix queue somewhere near the bottom and let it stay there until you run out of good movies to watch. The film really screams TBS, USA, or FX. And as a movie playing on cable in the background while you’re doing some work on your computer or drafting your fantasy football team is where it provides the most value.

Notable Performances: Helen Mirren still has great screen presence.

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