Oh, what a difference 30 years makes. When Dudley Moore’s Arthur proved to be the surprise comedic hit of 1981, audiences couldn’t help but be charmed by the besotted millionaire who couldn’t attack a day without first imbibing a quart of gin and other spirits. Careless with money and self-indulgent to a fault, the character was the poster boy for the “Me Generation,” as his only care was to make himself happy. The fact that he grew a shred of conscience and revealed a sense of humanity many had suppressed was a welcome relief.
However, times have changed. Thanks to reality TV and the 24-hour news cycle, we’re fully aware of the frivolous antics of Paris Hilton and her ilk. In these hard economic times, their self-serving behavior makes them no friends among those just managing to scrape by. So it is that, as the remake of Arthur starring Russell Brand hits theaters. I fear his immature hijinks simply don’t play in this day and age. What was once charming simply comes off as wantonly irresponsible.
Putting this issue aside, the film isn’t helped by the fact that Brand plays the character as an overgrown child in need of a spanking, as opposed to Moore’s approach. (Sure, he was a drunk, but you always knew there was a decent man in there somewhere). Equally damning is the lack of chemistry between the star and his love interest (Greta Gerwig) and the shrill turn from Jennifer Garner, as Arthur’s fiancé who’s only after him for his riches. While Helen Mirren maintains her dignity, the same cannot be said for anyone else in this comedy that’s woefully out of step with the times.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at firstname.lastname@example.org.