Movie review: Arthur
With "Arthur," director Jason Winer has followed a good rule for a successful remake: Go for a non-classic. The hit 1981 original has sentimental favorite Dudley Moore on its side, but it's a vintage cheese ball with a cloying yacht rock theme song and a major miscast in costar Liza Minnelli.
A choice not to tamper with the best doesn't guarantee great returns the second time out, however. While the new version is amusing and cleverer than it could've been, it has its own problems.
The biggest is a lack of fresh thought, beyond the vehicular possibilities in casting Russell Brand as Arthur. As in the original, he's a drunken man-child forced to propose a loveless marriage to keep his massive inheritance. At the same time, Arthur meets his true match, Greta Gerwig's Naomi.
Brand has his moments, but other updates, from throwing a bone to AA to reversing the gender of Arthur's caretaker (Helen Mirren in John Gielgud's former role), seem tacked in place.
Unfortunately, the remake also retains the original's weak romantic chemistry. While Gerwig ("Greenberg") is an improvement on Minnelli, her natural qualities are no good match for Brand's exaggerated wackiness. It's like watching a romance between the girl next door and an alien from the planet Glamrock.
2.5 stars out of 4