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Arthur


When you get caught between the moon and New York City, you're screwed.

Rod Lott July 12th, 2011

If there's one good thing in the failed remake of "Arthur," it's that Hollywood can stop trying to make a leading man out of Russell Brand and move on to someone else.

arthur

As "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" proved, he's only good in small doses; as "Get Him to the Greek" proved, he's downright grating in large ones.

Taking over Dudley Moore's iconic, Oscar-nominated title role, Brand seems not to have undergone any great stretch to portray a rich, spoiled, drunken, promiscuous man-child. We're asked to laugh at his careless, intoxicated shenanigans — he's wearing Abe Lincoln's actual suit! He dressed as a giant gummy bear! He's got a Batmobile and a "Back to the Future" DeLorean! — but the script has not a single effective joke to affix to those supposedly riotous situations.

I don't know if it's Brand or the character as scripted — I'm guessing the former, based on his previous performances and interviews — but he won't shut up, as if he'll eventually produce a gem if he just keeps yapping. He doesn't (also see: Robin Williams). He actually handles some of the third-act drama well, yet director Jason Winer (TV's "Modern Family") force-feeds the material, diluting any emotional power.

Mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig ("Greenberg") is clearly out of her comfort zone, exhibiting an awkwardness in the Liza Minnelli role. I felt palpable embarrassment for both Helen Mirren and Jennifer Garner for some of the things they're asked to do.

Although I've seen the 1981 original "Arthur" probably half a dozen times, it holds no special place in my heart, so the idea of a remake isn't sacrilege to me, but this one seems more needless than most. —Rod Lott


 
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