Friday, April 22, 2011


Yes, I know it was only 24% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes the day I went, but I had to check out Arthur for three reasons:

* Helen Mirren
* Russell Brand
* Helen Mirren
Did I mention Helen Mirren?

The fundamental challenge that this film faces are well-documented and formidable in our current social and economic environment: sympathetically portraying an alcoholic who spends money wildly and capriciously.

One way to address this problem is to try to skate right by it, largely ignoring the personal and social consequences and hoping the audience will play along with you. That's what the original movie did.

Another way is to try to pay at least some heed to these issues. That's where this version went. It was consequently both a more intelligent film than the original and a far more uneven one. They probably would have fared better by trimming a good twenty minutes and making the result far more of a velocity exercise, one that barely let you catch your breath--and thus hoped to lure you away from anything resembling serious consideration of the subject matter.

But they didn't, and so though the film is fun at times, it also drags quite a bit.

Helen Mirren, however, was as lovely and powerful a presence as always. Her intelligence and strength was always evident, but so was her affection--however difficult to understand--for the man-child Arthur.

Russell Brand was predictably at his best in the silly moments. Those that required him to be serious clearly stretched his acting abilities too far.

Greta Gerwig, though scripted to be so basic a character that any modern lips-and-eyes actress could have filled the role, still managed to make you like her--and was a vast improvement over Liza Minelli in the original.

I don't regret going to see the film, but I also can't recommend it wholeheartedly. On balance, save Arthur for your Netflix queue.

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