April 8, 2011 in Features

Remake tarnishes ‘Arthur’

Rick Bentley Fresno Bee
 

There’s not enough liquor on the planet to obliterate the memory of “Arthur.”

This feeble remake is not just repugnant for its lack of humor, amateurish acting and lead-footed pacing, it’s also an insult to the memory of Dudley Moore, who starred in the 1981 version.

Russell Brand, England’s answer to Jerry Lewis, takes over the role of Arthur Bach, the millionaire who splits his days between drinking and spending money.

His antics have embarrassed his mother (Geraldine James) long enough. She gives Arthur an ultimatum: Either marry the manipulative, money-hungry banshee Susan (Jennifer Garner) or lose all his money.

The decision seems like a no-brainer (a perfect term for everything about this movie) until Arthur meets Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a free spirit who gives illegal tours of New York to make a living.

Director Jason Winer desperately tries to get us to believe that this Arthur is the kind of lovable lush that made Moore’s Arthur such a darling with critics.

But Brand is annoying and lacks Moore’s natural charm. His Arthur is so unlikable that when key emotional moments arrive, they come across as manipulative and superficial.

The drinking’s not the biggest miscue. Having Arthur be so juvenile with his spending at the time of a huge recession is a monumental blunder. It’s supposed to be endearing, but it’s just one more reason to dislike this character.

Brand doesn’t carry the shame alone. There are plenty of other characters to dislike. People in comas have more personality than Gerwig, and Garner’s so unfunny it’s painful to watch her “sexy cat” effort.

Helen Mirren, who turns in a valiant effort to save the movie, plays Arthur’s nanny. This is an important relationship because it’s through her that Arthur begins to change. But a 35-year-old man having a nanny just plays creepy.

Add in Winer’s pedestrian direction, and the sobering truth is that the new “Arthur” is about as appealing as licking the floor of a drunk tank on New Year’s Day.

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