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Review: Arthur

daniel cohen reviews the remake of the classic ’80s comedy …

Plot: Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) is set to inherit close to a billion dollars, but when his mother (Geraldine James) fears his childish and drunken antics will scare off investors from the family company, she gives Arthur an ultimatum: Marry Susan (Jennifer Garner), a successful business woman, or get cut off from his wealth. Arthur must choose between his money and an unhappy marriage, or pursue the kind-hearted Naomi (Greta Gerwig) in this re-make of the 1981 comedy.

When Arthur begins with Russell Brand putting on the nipple Batman suit and driving around with Luis Guzman as Robin in the Batmobile, the tone was pretty much set.

Surprisingly, the film takes a turn I didn’t expect. Instead of an annoying “in your face” unfunny Russell Brand comedy, I got a half-ass boring dramedy. What’s the difference, though? Both are bad. It’s like the filmmakers knew they couldn’t make the comedy we all expected this to be, because people like me who aren’t Russell Brand fans would be waiting like ravenous wolves to rip him and the film apart. As it turns out, I’ll be criticizing the movie for different reasons.

The dramedy is very hard to pull off. More often than not, it feels like the movie is confused and not sure where it wants to go, which is what happens with Arthur. The first half is comedy. The second half is a drama. The comedy isn’t funny, and the drama is boring as hell.

On the comedy side, I didn’t get one single “Laugh Out Loud” moment. Every twenty minutes, Russell Brand would say something that made me chuckle, but I never got a genuine laugh. The jokes are just pathetic. Really, a Star Wars Darth Vader mask joke? Come on. Academy Award winner Helen Mirren puts it on, and retorts with “This is so humiliating.” How fitting of a line. Arthur also drives around in the Back To The Future Delorean, and as we touched upon earlier, the Batmobile. We’ve seen these jokes so many times before. And it’s the Batman Forever Batmobile! Batman Forever! That movie came out in 1995!! I guess Warner Brothers was like, “Yeah, we don’t want the current Batmobile associated with this film. You can take the crap one.” I did appreciate the humor never dipping too low. There were no fart or poop jokes, so I guess that’s something.

There are some real awkward scenes which seem to go on forever. One in particular is with Susan’s father played by Nick Nolte that involves a buzz saw that is just weird. It’s a loooooooooong unfunny joke that only serves one plot point. And then there’s the scene you see in the trailer with Jennifer Garner getting stuck on that huge magnet which is excruciatingly unfunny. Bottom line: The bad jokes go on for too long.

The drama isn’t convincing because there is no chemistry with any of these characters. Helen Mirren as Arthur’s nanny Hobson is giving it her all, but I didn’t care for any of the other performances. Russell Brand isn’t annoying when he’s doing the drama stuff, but there’s nothing compelling about it either.

The romantic relationship between Arthur and Naomi (Greta Gerwig) was flat, and I just didn’t like their characters a whole lot. I get that Arthur acting like a child is intentional, but it’s way over done. He’s getting bedtime stories read to him and “Twinkle Little Star” plays before he goes to sleep. It’s a little much. Naomi also acts like a child. Not to the extent of Arthur, but I felt like she was fueling his childish behavior even though the movie wants you to believe she’s inspiring him to grow up. I almost found myself sadistically rooting for the “villain” Susan, Jennifer Garner’s character, whose performance I actually did enjoy. I think it’s because Arthur is such an overly pathetic character, I almost wanted him to fail. That’s not a good formula for your movie when you want the protagonist to not succeed, especially in a comedy.

And then of course the ending is lazily rushed in the last five minutes as Arthur barely learns anything. There’s actually a point where you think it might end, and if it did end there, I would have liked it a lot more, but it continues on and gives a frustrating conclusion to go along with a frustrating movie.

I guess this could have been worse. I prefer the half-ass dramedy as opposed to Brand screaming in my face for a near two hours. The jokes were never offensive, and Mirren and Garner gave solid performances, but there is no reason to see this. I didn’t care about these characters at all, especially Arthur, and I was constantly looking at my watch for this yawn fest to end. I guess that pretty much sums it up right there.

Rating: 4.5 out of 10 (Bad)

Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen
Daniel Cohen likes movies and bagels, and that’s pretty much it. Aside from writing Box Office predictions, Daniel hosts the monthly Batman by the Numbers Podcast on the Breakcast feed. Speaking of Batman, If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.


  1. Thank you. You save me from going to see it. I’ll wait until they start showing it every other hour on cable.

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