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Arthur

Thirty years on from Dudley Moore, another British comedian stars as a sozzled super-wealthy man-child being forced by his tycoon family to choose between money and love. Russell Brand’s obviously there for his naughty-boy charm, but the casting backfires because he’s not equipped for the part. Dudley Moore always suggested a sweet soul beneath the drink-fuelled bravado, yet with Brand the showy petulance masks – what? – a deeper layer of showy petulance? Since Brand doesn’t make us care whether Arthur finds love (and his big emotional moments expose the comedian’s acting limitations), the movie’s essentially a goner, no matter that it finds inventive new ways to show off his billionaire spending power, including a floating magnetic bed, his own Batmobile and dinner for two in rented-out Grand Central station.

That said, the female roles, the weakest element in the original, get a makeover, with Jennifer Garner effective as the grasping nouvelle riche earmarked for Brand’s dynastic marriage, and mumblecore sweetheart Greta Gerwig stealing the show as the illegal tour guide who’s the kooky-yet-endearing object of the hero’s affections. Gerwig is more relaxed than anyone, not least Helen Mirren, who can’t work out whether her nanny role is bitchy or serious, probably because the writing has de-clawed the John Gielgud character and ripped the heart from the story. The passage of time has brought us a blander, more responsible ‘Arthur’ with far fewer laughs and, be warned, a painful update on the classic Burt Bacharach title tune over the end credits.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday April 22 2011
Duration: 110 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Jason Winer
Cast: Russell Brand
Luis Guzman
Nick Nolte
Greta Gerwig
Jennifer Garner
Helen Mirren