Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Video review: "Arthur"

I daresay audiences missed the boat on "Arthur."

This cute and clever remake of the 1981 hit romantic comedy starring Dudley Moore manages to follow the plot of the original fairly closely, but results in a very different -- but nearly equally enjoyable -- film experience.

That's mostly due to the casting of British comedian Russell Brand in the title role. Brand, known for his bad-boy image and hedonistic film characters, plays a sweet, almost innocent man-boy multi-millionaire happily drinking and partying away his life.

Unlike Aldous Snow, Brand's hedonistic character from "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek," his Arthur has a good streak a mile long -- hidden underneath a wastrel life of debauchery.
Brand shows us the character's vulnerable and tender side, and it's something we've never seen out of him before. Turns out the Brit known for hard-core comedy has a softie inside.

As in the original, Arthur is threatened with disinheritance unless he marries a woman from an appropriate family (played by Jennifer Garner in rhymes-with-witch mode). But then he falls in love with a sweet working-class girl (Greta Gerwig) and decides to risk it all, with the tacit approval of his servant/life-lessons teacher Hobson, played by Helen Mirren.

Audiences stayed away in drove from this remake, but for once the reboot was actually a welcome one. Brand creates a thoroughly charming character who actually makes us forget about Dudley Moore, if only for a little while.

Video extras are the same for both Blu-ray and DVD versions, and are a bit disappointing.

You get "Arthur Unsupervised," a behind-the-scenes look at production with Brand and Director Jason Winer. It promises "fun footage, outrageous photos and ad-libs too wild for theaters." Meh.

There's also a gag reel and 10 minutes worth of deleted/extended scenes.

There's also a combo pack available that includes Blu-ray, DVD and digital copies of the film.

Movie: 3.5 stars out of four
Extras: 2 stars

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