Arthur Review: Russell Brand Makes Us Laugh Yet Again

It’s perfect casting with Russell Brand as Arthur in Arthur. The remake of the 1981 film staring Dudley Moore set the standards high for the role of Arthur. But as you’re sitting in the audience watching this film, you can close your eyes and you’ll find it’s remarkable how alike Brand sounds to Moore.

Similarities between today’s release and the original are plenty, but there are also a number of differences. Helen Mirren takes on the role Hobson which was played by John Gielgud in the original. Then there is Greta Gerwig as Naomi, who was played by Liza Minnelli as Linda in the original. Gerwig brings a distinctively different portrayal and does a fabulous job with the more emotionally intensive scenes. Another notable difference? Instead of trains you can expect a Batmobile, because let’s face it, if you had nearly a billion dollars – you’d be driving around New York in one too.

The plot for those of you who aren’t familiar with the original is only slightly different. It’s tailored to 2011. It’s about a ridiculously rich man named Arthur (Brand) who behaves as if he is still a kid. He enjoys partying and buying extravagant items the rest of us wouldn’t even dream about (that suit and top hat from the previews… Abraham Lincoln’s. Chump change.). His father died when he was young. His mother thought it best that Hobson (Helen Mirren) raise him. But after a string of embarrassing incidents, Arthur’s mother decides it’s time for Arthur to settle down, and if he doesn’t want to play along he’ll lose all the money. Arthur tries his hardest, but finds it more difficult once he meets a Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a girl he could truly fall in love with.

It’s impossible for me not to love Russell Brand, and after having seen his stand-up – it’s clear that they let Brand have a little bit of freedom with this role. His improv shines through and lightens up the script with lines that will have you grabbing your stomach you’ll be laughing so hard. But what was truly odd for me was seeing Brand in the more emotionally-trying moments. I was so unused to seeing this that it just felt weird. When do we not see Brand making a joke or smiling his adorable childlike smile? Seeing him in moments of sadness and moments of realization of love are interesting for the audience. It’s something entirely new. Brand has a little bit more work to do in this area to be the perfect fit, but in the lighter funnier moments of the film – there’s not a better fit of current actors.

Overall, Arthur retains the original sense of comedy and mischief with a more modern spin on things. As with all remakes, you can’t directly compare them or you will be disappointed. The original Arthur was met with a great deal of critical and commercial success in large part because of Dudley Moore’s performance. Brand has made it no secret that he’s a fan of Dudley Moore, talking about it in numerous interviews. He was also a fan of the original Arthur, and he’s made me a fan of this Arthur as well.

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Grade: A-
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Review By: Emma Loggins

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  1. Nice to get your take on the remake Emma. I’ve had some real reservations because I think Dudley Moore was so good in the original. But you rate it pretty high with an A- so maybe I’m just being stubborn and difficult. 🙂