Billionaires, don't you just love 'em? I could hug Richard Branson until he died. I'd really love that dead, beardy billionaire.
Arthur is a remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore film of the same name, which I haven't seen so I can't comment on. The titular character Arthur (Russell Brand), is a drunkard with a vast wealth. He is strong armed into marrying a woman he doesn't care for by his loveless mother, in order to keep the money he has become accustomed to.
In his latest stand up special on Netflix, Russell Brand alludes to his lack of acting roles recently, saying, “Twentieth Century Fox aren't that keen to cast you in anything if you keep going on the telly saying that Rupert Murdoch looks like a sun damaged ball bag with glasses.” It is a funny insight, not to mention critique of that humongous wankmuncher Murdoch's looks. But I get the impression not everyone enjoys Russell Brand as an actor/ human.
I quite enjoy Brand's comedic acting, he brings an improvisational, rapid fire kind of funny. He carries Arthur, bouncing around eccentrically, drunkenly (though Brand has been sober for years), hilariously and yet sympathetically. Without Brand's history of drug and drink abuse, perhaps he wouldn't have been as convincing in the role. But he is. He gives Arthur humanity, adding a depth to the character the film would fail without.
Helen Mirren ably assists as Arthur's long suffering nanny Hobson, and Luiz Guzman as his amusingly dim witted but loyal servant Bitterman. Hobson watches on disapprovingly as her ward, who she has cared for since infancy, struggles with life. His childish nature, awful, unloving mother, a gold digging potential bride, another woman who he desperately does want to be with and a drink dependency all combine to make Arthur almost a lost cause. A funny lost cause, but a lost cause nonetheless.
A lot of how cool you are with Russell Brand might dictate whether you watch this film or not, but it shouldn't. Director Jason Winer keeps the pace up, and the jokes keep coming, even as Arthur's struggles intensify. There are sorrowful moments, too, thrown in with the giddy fun.
Not quite throwaway, as Arthur does stand up to repeat viewings; it's easy going, playful and has just enough of everything to please most.
The Cinematic Sommelier: Such a broad, childish comedy there's practically a whole generation of films which pair with Arthur. Step Brothers captures the infantile element, and given the superhero theme (Arthur likes his superheroes), Thor: Ragnarok is very funny and would accompany well, too. For the Netflixers, try Office Christmas Party or We're the Millers.
Bedsit it? I have watched Arthur a few times now. No it is not high brow. No it isn't going to blow you away. But, it should make you laugh, and it's far funnier than anything Will Ferrell has made in years. Sadly. I hope Brand goes back to acting, because his stand up is, frankly, self obsessed and not as good. 7/10 because of the rewatch factor.