‘Arthur’ remake surprisingly entertaining

Helen Mirren as Hobson and Russell Brand as Arthur in "Arthur," in theaters April 8. (Warner Bros./MCT)

While the original 1981 film “Arthur” was nothing more then a movie about an unapologetic rich drunkard with no likable qualities, the remake of “Arthur” is an amusing and redeeming story.

“Arthur,” directed by Jason Winer, is a remake of the 1981 film, but the story is modernized and the main character is given a heart in the adapted screenplay.

Arthur Bach, played by Russell Brand, is a multimillionaire who has never had to work a day in his life, and lives each day for booze, pleasure and entertainment.
This wouldn’t normally be an issue but like with most of the wealthy, Arthur keeps ending up in the tabloids due to highly embarrassing public antics. Needless to say, his family is not happy about it.

Unfortunately for Arthur, his money stems from the family business, which is quickly losing investors thanks to Arthur’s bad behavior.
This leads Arthur’s mother to give him an ultimatum: either marry business savvy, but incredibly cold and manipulative, Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) or be cut off from his $950 million inheritance.

Arthur’s nanny Hobson, played by the illustrious Helen Mirren, does her best to get Arthur to behave and grow up, but Arthur has serious mommy and daddy issues.

And while Arthur agreed to marry for his money, he hadn’t counted on meeting Naomi (Greta Gerwig), an aspiring children’s book writer who gives illegal walking tours of New York City.

She is everything Arthur could want in a woman, but he has to deal with the over-protective Hobson and his heartless mother.
While it doesn’t sound like the greatest plot for a movie, Brand and Mirren play off each other amazingly well with Brand’s humor and charming drunken behavior, as well as Mirren’s dry, sarcastic mannerisms.

Brand plays this role far better then Dudley Moore did in the 1981 version, mainly because the new film isn’t about finding humor is a stumbling unrepentant drunk; it’s about a man with a messed-up life perspective who’s trying to find out who he really is.

Mirren had large shoes to fill, though. The original Hobson from the 1981 film was a butler played by John Gielgud, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role. She filled those shoes. Her portrayal of Hobson was just as good as Gielgud’s. With her unquestionable flair for dead-pan humor Mirren easily steals the movie, especially since her maternal side makes more sense when it came to nurturing this new Arthur.

Susan, Garner’s character, is the most surprising though. She’s manipulative, evil, rude and bossy. While she may be gorgeous, she’s also heartless. Not a role one would normally picture Garner in, and she carried it quite well.

While it’s no cinematic masterpiece “Arthur” is an entertaining and engaging film. It’s not overly deep, nor does it require much thinking, but for sheer amusement it’s worth a watch. Mirren’s witty nanny alone makes this movie worth seeing.

And for anyone who’s seen the original “Arthur” and was utterly bored or disgusted by its poor humor and tasteless ending, have no fear. Even with its similar plotline to the original, this new “Arthur” is immensely more satisfying.

*** out of five stars