Brand’s best since ‘Marshall’
Published: Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 18:04
Russell Brand is on a dangerous track — he's becoming Vanilla Ice.
Vanilla Ice had "Ice Ice Baby" and didn't do much else after. Brand stole the show in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and hasn't done anything since that has had the same punch. Brand's remake of 1981's Arthur is his best film since, but that's still not saying much.
His last headlining film, Get Him to the Greek, was plagued by "The Judd Apatow Formula" and Arthur unfortunately follows the same path. The Apatow Formula, as made famous in Funny People and Knocked Up, fills the film with two-thirds nonstop laughs, then brings them to a screeching halt in the last third when character development and excessive storylines get tacked on. Arthur does this as well, but manages to get a couple of laughs from the audience in the final act.
Brand plays the titular character made famous by Dudley Moore. Arthur is a drunken billionaire that stands to lose his inheritance if he goes after the woman he loves instead of marrying the woman his family wants him to.
The women Arthur must choose between are the fake tour guide Naomi (Greta Gerwig) and sociopathic business executive Susan (Jennifer Garner).
Where Brand shines is in his comedic timing. He blends the slapstick in the film with some witty one-liners that reminds us why he was so fun to watch in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Where Brand stumbles — and not in a good way — is when playing a drunk because I'm not sure if he's acting or if that's how he naturally sounds.
Of all the other characters in Arthur's life, the most memorable is his nanny Hobson (played by Helen Mirren). She quickly lets Arthur know how much of an idiot he is through back-handed compliments and her take on the situation. Unfortunately a lot of those laughs come borrowed directly from the original Hobson played by John Gielgud, who won an Oscar for his performance.
The oddest choice in casting was Nick Nolte, who plays Susan's just-as-crazy father. This is the worst his voice has sounded in a long time. Nolte's voice sounds like a chain-smoking bear trying to roar.
There is still the question as to why Warner Brothers would choose to remake it now. A film about a rich playboy who literally throws his money around doesn't sound appealing when I look in my wallet and see a single dollar and a couple cents. That concept sounds more insulting than humorous.
Although there are laughs, Arthur falls short of being Brand's next big hit that solidifies himself as a comedy headliner.