Perhaps the most complained about problem with Arthur, besides the fact that it’s starring Russell Brand, is the tagline “Meet the world’s only lovable billionaire.” A couple of valid points have been made by others and are worth repeating here: firstly – the fact that his mother threatens that Arthur will lose his inheritance of $950 million (note the M for MILLION), and secondly, even if he were a billionaire he’s certainly not the *only* lovable one – what about Bruce Wayne, or that woman that wrote that about a boy who finds out he’s a wizard?
Arthur (Brand) is a wealthy, unemployed alcoholic working his way through his trust fund feeling quite content that he won’t have to work a day in his life, spending his days avoiding his mother (Geraldine James) and being looked after by Hobson (John Gielgud in the original, a role now gender swapped to Helen Mirren) and his chauffer Bitterman (Luis Guzman). Tired of his womanising ways his mother tells him he must settle down and marry ex-girlfriend Susan (Jennifer Gardner) or face losing his inheritance but finds himself falling in love with a beautiful tour guide/writer named Naomi (Greta Gerwig).
It’s always better to go into a film with low expectations and be pleasantly surprised than have high expectations and be thoroughly disappointed. This is something to definitely keep in mind for Arthur.
It’s decent enough to provide some good laughs, but it rarely differs from the original and you’ve got to actually like Russell Brand if you intend to remotely enjoy the film, a task which some people find impossible to achieve.
I did think Helen Mirren was absolutely wonderful and often saved most scenes, in particular a distinctly awkward Alcoholics Anonymous scene and the first time Arthur tried to cook her breakfast is a charming and lovely scene of Arthur for the first time trying to take care of someone other than himself.
However the pros cannot outweigh the cons. Being a fan of Alias I used to like Jennifer Gardner, but now I feel like her choice in films doesn’t quite suit her and I’m a bit tired of her playing the kooky/quirky/a little bit crazy character as can be seen in the “cat sex” scene where she purrs and preens herself. Greta Gerwig is charming but a little too 2D for me to believe and everyone just trails along behind Brand’s one man show to the point that when the film tries to touch upon a serious and emotional point it feels very out of place and not within the tone of the rest of the film at all.
You could pick a worse film to see at the cinema, and if you like Russell Brand or want to watch how to get drunk and drive a Bat mobile you’ll get a few laughs, but otherwise I wouldn’t recommend rushing to the cinema to see it.