Thursday, July 7, 2011

Arthur DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Remake of Classic Romantic Comedy Released on DVD

Bon vivant Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) stands to inherit a billion dollars as the sole heir of a fortune controlled by his widowed mother, Vivienne (Geraldine James). But because the eligible bachelor’s been nothing but a constant source of embarrassment, the imperious, family matriarch is considering cutting him out of her will entirely.
For this flamboyant flexisexual’s tawdry exploits always seem to end up splashed across the tabloids, whether he’s being caught exposing himself in a limo or waking up in bed with a couple of teenage transvestites. Worst of all, Arthur’s a speech-slurring drunk who carries a flask and seizes on any flimsy excuse to imbibe. Consequently, his only close friend in the world is Hobson (Helen Mirren), the loyal nanny who’s been tucking him into bed since he was a toddler.
Fed up with watching her reckless offspring fritter away both his trust fund and his future, Momma Bach decides that by settling down with a socialite is the only way that her petulant playboy will ever mature. So, she secretly arranges for him to wed Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner), the daughter of a Manhattan real estate tycoon (Nick Nolte).
Arthur agrees to proceed only after his mom levels an ultimatum: either marry Susan or lose your inheritance. Soon, the engagement is announced and New York is abuzz about the impending nuptials with Town & Country devoting a cover story to the high-profile couple.
Meanwhile, Arthur becomes consumed with overwhelming regret when he falls for Naomi Quinn (Greta Gerwig), a free-spirited tour guide he meets inside Grand Central Terminal. He suddenly realizes that she’s the one for him, even though she’s a mere commoner who still lives with her dad (Peter Van Wagner) in a modest tract house in Queens.
It’s not long before Arthur shares his misgiving with Susan, but his bride-to-be will have none of it, nor will his mortified mother. Thus, Arthur finds himself on the horns of a dilemma: whether to forsake a limitless fortune to be with the woman of his dreams or to enter a marriage of convenience to continue living in the lap of luxury.
So unfolds Arthur, an ill-advised remake of the 1981 classic which co-starred Liza Minelli and the late Dudley Moore. I’d like to think that in these more-enlightened times our sensitivity about alcoholism would have evolved to where we wouldn’t want to laugh at a character caught in the grip of the disease anymore.
My second problem with the picture is that where Moore imbued Arthur with an impish, endearing vulnerability, Russell Brand reinterprets him as a brazen and unapologetically-audacious lout. Maybe that’s more in line with the mindset of a spoiled-rotten, 21st Century schizoid heir, but it also makes for an awfully-unlikable protagonist.
Even this version’s anti-climactic finale is an almost insulting, tension-free afterthought which renders Arthur 2.0, a big disappointment in comparison to the relatively-exuberant original.

Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality, profanity and pervasive substance abuse.
Running time: 110 minutes
Distributor: Warner Home Video
Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Gag reel, additional scenes, and “Arthur Unsupervised,” a featurette comprised of fun footage, outrageous photos and ad-libs too wild for the theaters.

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