DVD Review: Arthur
Available Now on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Arthur features an all star cast - a remake comedy that fires on all cylinders. Churned out as the modern equivalent of the 1981 film staring Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli, this movie casts Russell Brand in the title role, with reasonably unknown Greta Gerwig as his love interest Naomi. Finishing off the roster are Jennifer Garner, Helen Mirren, Geraldine James, and Luis Guzman.
Arthur tells the story of billionaire playboy Arthur Bach: He owns the Western Hemisphere’s only floating magnetic bed, his boxer is Evander Holyfield and he got bored of his pet giraffe because it ate its own monocle. Arthur lives in a true fantasy world where money is no object and he never has to wish for anything. The bulk of his life is cared for by Nanny McPhee stereotype and Wonder Woman; Hobson (Mirren), without whom he would be completely lost. Added to the trio is hilarious, if slightly underused chauffeur, Bitterman (Guzman).
With faith in his father’s company dwindling due to his antics, Arthur’s mother (Geraldine James) gives him an ultimatum. Marry hard nosed Susan (Garner) or lose his entire fortune. Arthur is then faced with two choices, marry a woman he hates or fall for illegal tour guide, Naomi.
Stand-out points include the opening scene, where Arthur and Bitterman dress as Batman and Robin, then go for a joyride in the GENUINE Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 classic. The two make a perfect comedy partnership, with Arthur asking: “Bitterman, why are you shaving.” To the response, “Because Robin doesn’t have a beard.” Without seeing his overweight Mexican chauffeur sardined into a Robin costume, it is hard to explain the irony in the scene.
Mirren is superb as Hobson; admittedly the character has changed gender since 1981 but this can only be seen as a bonus. The awkward maternal relationship and Mary Poppins style British wit make Hobson a loveable character. He refers to her as ‘Alfred,’ yet another nod for Batman fans… and it is clear to see why. Neither one can really survive without the other, it is a touching relationship that you get to see develop. In one scene Arthur half heartedly tries to propose to her and you almost wish for her to say yes! Both have beautiful on screen chemistry which leads to some truly emotional scenes. Arthur attempting to care for Hobson and feed her ‘Saucyo’s' is sure to gain a laugh.
Garner plays his forced fiancée with great presence, implying all the emotion and love of a sheet of sandpaper. You feel ever so slightly sorry for Susan but at the same time she is the kind of girl you love to hate. Watch out for her getting stuck to the magnetic bed!
Gerwig gives a performance reminiscent of Zooey Deschanel’s character of Jovie in Elf, as the softly spoken girl from the wrong side of the tracks who could never fall for you. Whilst well acted, she makes for a pretty forgettable leading lady; the kind of character we have all seen before.
Brand’s eccentricity comes through at just the right level without finding him overly annoying. Arthur is the kind of man who sleeps in a room shaped like a planetarium and parades around New York City in Abraham Lincoln’s suit; but it is this childhood innocence that makes him such a likeable rogue. If anything, the childhood immaturity adds sympathy that you don’t really get with Arthur’s 1981 counterpart. Hobson rightly says. “He’s merely shaped like an adult.”
For geeks amongst us there is no end of movie paraphernalia, an ever growing list of movie cars make a cameo, including ‘The Mystery Machine,’ ‘The Batmobile,’ and ‘The DeLorean.’ Notes of a happy ending are dotted throughout, but Arthur leaves a poignant message of how far and at what cost people will go for love. Unlike many modern equivalents, it’s a deserving remake.
Let’s hope they don’t ruin it with a sequel.
FMV Rating ****