New on DVD/Blu-ray: Arthur (2011)

Russell Brand is no Dudley Moore, but he gives it the ol college try and then some in this 2011 remake of Steve Gordon’s 1981 comedy classic starring Moore as the irrepressible man-baby Arthur Bach. Comedian Brand gets solid assistance from an excellent female cast consisting of Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig, and the 2011 version of “Arthur” now arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD, On Demand and for Download July 15, 2011 from Warner Home Video.

Loveable billionaire Arthur Bach, an irresponsible charmer who has always relied on two things to get by: his limitless fortune and the good sense of his lifelong nanny and best friend Hobson, to keep him out of trouble. Kind-hearted, fun-loving, and utterly without purpose, Arthur spends every day in the heedless pursuit of amusement. But when his unpredictable public image threatens the staid reputation of the family foundation, Bach Worldwide, he is given an ultimatum: marry the beautiful but decidedly unlovable Susan Johnson, an ambitious corporate exec who can keep him in line, or say goodbye to his billion-dollar inheritance and the only way of life he knows. It’s a deal Arthur would be inclined to take…if he hadn’t just fallen for Naomi, a New York City tour guide who shares his idealism and spontaneity.

The Movie:

Brand is no Moore, let’s get that out of the way first, shall we? But the comedian certainly gives it his best try in Jason Winer’s remake, which fines Brand playing the titular Arthur, a spoiled billionaire who hasn’t done a decent day’s worth of real work in his life. He lives a carefree existence, with everything he can ever want at his beck and call thanks to his limitless wealth. And ol Arthur wants lots, being one of those kids that never quite grew up. All that changes when he’s forced into a sham marriage by his mother to the delightfully unlovable Jennifer Garner. And wouldn’t you know it? Just as he’s about to go through with it, our hero goes and falls in love with a lowly (and unlicensed) NYC tour guide played by Greta Gerwig. Hilarity, as they say, ensue.

Well not really, but if you’re a fan of Brand, then “Arthur” is definitely your cup of tea. The stand-up comedian is certainly one of the best things about the film, and switching the gender of Arthur’s butler Hobson from male to female in the person of Helen Mirren was interesting. Whereas the original really didn’t bother too much with touching on the subject of Arthur’s drinking, here it’s treated much more seriously, and Arthur’s love of the booze is an issue to be tackled and won. Hey, it’s 2011, you can’t have a drunk hero running around without consequences, after all. Bad example for the kids and all that.

“Arthur” of course doesn’t break the mold, and you probably shouldn’t expect it to. I was a bit disappointed to see Jennifer Garner doing another predictable romcom, though. Maybe it’s just the fact that I first discovered her on “Alias”, and really liked her segueway into action cinema with films like “Daredevil” and “Elektra”. As such, I find her current string of endless romcoms to be just a tad, well, disappointing. The girl has so much potential, I’d just hate to see her waste it all in such predictable nonsense for the rest of her career. Come on, Jennifer, how about another action ass-kicking action movie? Pretty please?

Fans of Russell Brand are of course the main audience for “Arthur”, and they should be delighted at the result. I could take or leave the man myself, but I’ll give him credit for a pretty good performance. Those who never really appreciated Brand’s, well, brand of humor will find his Arthur irritating to the nth degree. Just ask yourself: are you a fan of Brand? If so, watch this movie. If not, stay clear. On the plus side, Mirren is very amusing as Arthur’s strict and disapproving nanny, and is certainly a major contrast to John Gielgud, who won an Oscar for the role back in 1981.

Special features on the disc include a gag reel, deleted scenes, and the featurette “Arthur Unsupervised!”

Buy “Arthur” on DVD or Blu-ray from Warner Home Video July 15th, 2011.