Arthur is a sweet but wildly irresponsible playboy whose millions have left him lonely and with no motivation in life. On the threshold of an arranged marriage with a simpering socialite whom he does not love, Arthur meets the spunky, blue-collar waitress Linda Marolla, and falls head over heels. However, just as he begins to pursue a relationship with Linda, his father and iron-willed grandmother threaten to pull the plug on his huge inheritance if he doesn't honor his position in life and go through with his marriage. Arthur must decide which is more important to him: his new love, or his 950 million dollars in the bank. (from MovieWeb.com)
In true [modern] Hollywood fashion, Arthur serves as a remake to the film of the same name from thirty years ago that featured Dudley Moore in the starring role. This time around, Russell Brand steps in as the title character and offers a fair modern retelling of the story of the immature son of a wealthy family who is being forced to marry into another wealthy family. Despite his raging immaturity, Arthur falls in love with a commoner from Queens and he's determined to find a way to marry her instead. Throw in an immense amount of alcohol and frequent off-color sexual innuendos and you have 2011's Arthur.
Television director Jason Winer (Modern Family, who has also acted in small roles for films like Van Wilder) makes his feature film directorial debut with a popular 80's film remake. While I haven't seen the original 1981 film about a drunken spoiled billionaire, I can tell you that it was pretty well received in its day and even spawned a sequel, Arthur 2: On The Rocks, seven years later. Russell Brand actually does a pretty decent job carrying this modern update, but not without bringing some of his usual crass schtick to the film. After watching some of the more raunchy gags included on the Blu-Ray special features, it's kind of a wonder why they even bothered trying to tame Brand's crude humor for a movie like this, but Arthur does end up bringing with it just enough laughs and heart to make it watchable. However, it's still a long way from being a good film.
Part of the movie's problem may be its tone. I don't usually enjoy even the PG-13 brand of crude comedies and Arthur seems to try hard to squeeze as much of that into it while keeping the title character charmingly dimwitted enough to still be likeable. When you have a film's "hero" as self-centered, uneducated and spoiled as this guy, it's tough to want to root for him. However, Russell Brand does a pretty good job making him come off as a bit of a victim of his circumstances without fully (and appropriately) letting him off the hook for the choices he continues to make as a result of it. Arthur Bach is a full-on alcholic who plays all day and all night and never quite grew up. Helen Mirren watches over him as his "nanny," Hobson, who cares for him but doesn't mother him in the way he needs for her to force him to mature. His actual mother, Vivian, is too busy running the family's billion-dollar corporation and hoping Arthur can grow up as not to continue to smear the family name across newspaper headlines. In fact, Vivian gets so sick and tired of his juvenile horseplay that she threatens to cut him off if he doesn't marry fellow rich girl Susan Johnson, who is played by Jennifer Garner (who abandons the usual "good girl" roles for this one). The last thing he wants to do is marry Susan, and he inconveniently meets the girl of his dreams soon thereafter - a wannabe tour guide who is just as fun-loving as he is, but a bit more level-headed and mature. She begins to encourage Arthur to grow up and it's really the scenes between the two of them that work the best. Arthur's right-hand man, Bitterman, is wonderfully portrayed by the ever-reliable Luis Guzmán, who also helps provide some of the film's best moments when Bitterman and Arthur are clowning around. The movie opens as Arthur and Bitterman are suiting up in Batman and Robin garb before taking the Batmobile, from the 1990's Batman film franchise, for a spin. Another highlight is when the two are seen riding in the DeLorean from Back To The Future and carry on a coversation inside of it before the scene ends. There are a few fun and whimsical moments too, but ultimately, its average script and crude jokes are what really drag the film down.
The content, as mentioned, consists mostly of bedroom jokes and some actual sexual situations. The worst of the latter happens when Susan shows up at Arthur's in corset lingerie, while she's completely drunk, and forces herself on him. It doesn't go too far before Arthur escapes, but it isn't before she nearly tears his shirt off and whips him like a horse before pulling his pants off as he crawls away. The film's dialog consists of plenty of references to Arthur's flings with prostitutes and wild living, as well as genetalia jokes and the like. The profanity is suprisingly tame for such a film (and considering its star), but unfortunately the bulk of the profanity included is blasphemy. There is mostly comedic violence, if any, with the worst being Nick Nolte pulling two slightly bloody nails out of his body after Arthur unknowingly shoots him with a nail gun. Lastly, Arthur drinks very, very heavily throughout the entire movie and is drunk in most of his scenes. While you want to see the movie get a happy resolution, you have to wonder why any girl would want to be with a guy like that and you almost feel bad wishing a nice girl on him.
Arthur does have some heart and a satisfying resolution, which almost bring a semblance of redemption to the story, but it's a rough road getting to that point. You could certainly do a lot worse for entertainment than the 2011 revisit to Arthur, but there isn't enough here worth a recommendation.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/14/11)
I didn't see Arthur on the big screen, but it translates fine in high definition. While it's not a movie that begs to be seen in Blu-Ray high def, it's pretty crisp and clear and the colors are vibrant. However, the colors may be a bit too vibrant if not too high in contrast at times.
Along with the feature film are a few bonus features...
Arthur Unsupervised -- This is just what you can guess it to be. For this short featurette, director Jason Winer talks about the improvisation that took place on the set and Russell Brand's unbridled mischief. While it doesn't go quite as far as you might expect it to, there's still a fair amount of uncensored profanity (including several uses of the "F" word) and some crude, sexual jokes. Sadly, it's the movie's only behind-the-scenes featurette and offers the only cast interviews. Still, you wouldn't miss much if you skipped watching it. (Profanity in this segment includes 5 "F" words - 4 from Russell Brand, 1 from Jennifer Garner; 1 "c*ck;" 1 "d*ckheads;" 3 "S" words; 2 "h*ll;" 4 "G-d;" 6 "a" words, and assorted sexual humor)
Additional Footage -- This is a series of alternate/deleted and extended scenes. The first is a scene where Arthur argues with Hobson about calling Naomi back. The next, titled "Stung by Love Wasps" is a longer version of when Bitterman drops Arthur off to talk to Burt Johnson. The two are sitting in the Back To The Future DeLorean and make some great time travel jokes while Arthur tries to explain to Bitterman that he loves Naomi but not Susan. It's a wonderful exchange between the two, but it does go on for much too long. The third scene is a short deleted sequence of when Arthur walks Naomi to her place. Next is an alternate scene titled "Employment Office Meltdown." It takes place right after Arthur botches the job interview by admitting he has no computer experience. Instead of the interview ending right there (as it does in the finished film), he's told to go to a separate employment window for paperwork and it becomes a montage of moments where he ultimately messes up the whole process. The sixth sequence is a brief extended version of his appearance at the AA meeting. Basically, it's just Bitterman giving him the pieces that make up the goofy disguise he wears to the meeting. Next is a short deleted scene called "Apology Breakfast" where Arthur brings breakfast to Hobson in bed. An alternate scene titled "I'm a Slippery Eel" follows, which is another version of Bitterman finding Arthur in the bathtub the day of the wedding. The scenes are decent additions to the extra features, but none add all that much (although I did enjoy the chat in the DeLorean). Also, the video quality is much more washed out and desaturated than the film itself. It appears to be more along the lines of standard definition quality.
Gag Reel -- The gag real is about a minute or so long and features maybe one good laugh, while the rest are a couple bleeped out profanities and a gag where Helen Mirren adlibs the frog and toad story a bit... inappropriately.
Arthur boasts a lot of talent but doesn't rise above mere mediocrity. The Blu-Ray release is OK, although it does pack a generous Blu-Ray Disc, DVD and Digital Copy combo, and the special features are a bit weak. Fans of the movie will enjoy this release, but the rest of us can just pass it by.- John DiBiase, (reviewed: 7/14/11)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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