This review first appeared in the Sunday Star Times, 24 April 2011
And so, from an unimaginative sequel [Scream 4] to a rather pointless remake.
As Russell Brand’s 30-something billionaire playboy zooms around New York city in a custom-made Batmobile, one can’t help but wonder what possessed movie execs to greenlight a version of the 1981 Dudley Moore vehicle of the same name, when 20 years on the story has so little to recommend it.
Arthur is a generous, faux naïve, perpetually drunk man-child, whose overbearing mother forces him to marry a domineering career woman (an unforgiving role for Jennifer Garner) if he wants to keep his fortune. Since we need a dramatic arc, Arthur instead falls for an equally childish young woman who shares his love of the juvenile.
Doubtless Moore was considered the drawcard in the original, and in keeping with this, the eternally charismatic Brand dons the signature top hat as if born to the role – his accent, hair and wild gait inevitably conjuring up sniffs of Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter/Willy Wonka. As his long-suffering nanny, Helen Mirren injects a bit of class and good humour into the otherwise shallow proceedings, but the film ignores the blatant truth that Arthur is on the one hand being infantilised and enabled, while at the same time belittled and bullied.
It’s mildly enjoyable, insipidly silly nonsense as one of Mirren’s choicest lines becomes the audience’s silent wish: “Your safari into the pointless ends now”.