Opening 5 May 2011
Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) is the playboy, only son of an established British family living in New York City. His mother runs the billion-dollar Bach Worldwide Foundation, leaving him with the freedom to follow his childish love of drink, cars, and dressing up, for which he throws around money by the fistfuls. A grown man, he is stuck in a time warp of puberty. All is well until he becomes a liability; prospective donors see no future in this foundation if Arthur should be the heir. His mother commands him to marry Susan (Jennifer Garner), a responsible, ambitious person, whom he doesn’t love. The only one who really cares about him is his childhood nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) who treats him as if he were still six years old. A nice person, she, however, comes across as an enabler with her own problems. Arthur realizes that he can’t very well survive without the family fortune, becomes engaged to Susan and meets her ferocious father (Nick Nolte). Around the same time he also meets Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a tour guide who writes children’s books. They fall in love while reading Frog and Toad are Friends, that book of high morals and dependability – something which Arthur lacks. The film ends predictably and everyone is happy, except two characters who come to a dead end – one quietly and one deservedly.
Some critics are unhappy with this film, because they feel it does not compare with the original Arthur from 1981, starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and John Gielgud in which Gielgud plays a butler who hovers over Arthur – rather than his nanny. This remake, 30 years later, however, can stand on its own. Here, Russell Brand has revived parts of his outrageous character from Forgetting Sarah Mashall and Get Him to the Greek and plays them to the hilt. He is in great shape (and disrobes often enough to flaunt it); he speaks with a squeaky voice in a British accent, and is believable as an irresponsible chap on the road to maturity. His best scenes are with Helen Mirren, possibly because he also has the most interaction with her. This romantic comedy is director Jason Winer’s first film, although he has been successful with the TV series Modern Family. Wonderful New York City never disappoints as a set location, and here we see a completely empty Grand Central Station, Queens, the New York Public Library, Central Park, 42nd Street, etc. And then there is the magnetic floating bed, a copy of a bed designed by architect Janjaap Ruijssenaars which you can buy for 1.5 million dollars. You’ll agree that there is nothing more romantic than giving your partner matching PEZ heads. (Becky Tan)