Remaking the 1981 film of the same name, Arthur is a Russell Brand-vehicle that it seems has little more ambition than to test his mettle as a comedy front man.
Billionaire playboy Arthur (Brand) has it all do if he’s to stay in his mother’s plans for the family’s great inheritance. Lavishly partying by night and blazing away their fortune by day, unless he quickly curbs his irresponsible behaviour, Arthur will be cut off and forced to quickly grow up, working his first honest days work in a lifetime.
The plan to scare him straight, is marriage, and proposed by Susan Johnson (Garner), an executive at the family company, and of a wealthy (but not as wealthy) family herself, Arthur’s mother agrees the pair will be wed, whether he likes it or not.
Though they dated briefly before, somewhat unsurprisingly, Arthur isn’t hugely into the idea, and that’s before he meets Naomi (Gerwig), a local tour guide who quickly captures his heart. Bringing the sweet side out in the lavish playboy, Arthur has soon fallen for humble Naomi, but as his big day approaches, and with secrets held back from either side, Arthur must decide if it’s love or money that he wants to line his pockets with, and at last grow up and make the decisions that his truly shape his future.
With the lewd dialogue and slapstick humour falling very flat, hardly any of Arthur’s jokes come off, and bar couple of the lines that aren’t cringe-worthy, the film is near instantly infuriating as the sloppy script does little to inspire.
Though it’s a couple of his lines that are the best thing about the film, Brand’s Arthur is the main problem that brings it down. At Arthur’s core, he just isn’t really a playboy and the wimpy voice Brand puts on undermines the whole thing. It feels like Brand was never settled on how to play him, leaving the audience a mixed-minded focal character. Even as a drunk, Brand doesn’t go whole hog in his Arthur performance.
Elsewhere Greta Gerwig is charming and by far the best thing about the movie, but Helen Mirren is wastefully restricted to playing up to Arthur’s Brand-isms, and will infuriate too.
Arthur could have been a caring and heartfelt comedy, but the tone is mixed, and the narrative missteps on all the wrong notes. The film improves towards the end, but by then it’s far too little too late.