Blu-ray Review: Arthur (2011)

Blu-ray | DVD | On Demand
Directed by Jason Winer
Starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Luis Guzmán
Warner Bros. Home Video
Release Date: July 15, 2011

Arthur, stars Russell Brand as the title character who’s a rich, alcoholic, heir to a business empire. Through his life, Arthur has squandered his fortune on space suits, a magnetic floating bed, telephone booth aquariums, movie memorabilia, specifically movie cars, and lots and lots of alcohol. After Arthur gets arrested for wrecking the Batmobile from Batman and Robin, Arthur’s mother (Geraldine James), the keeper of the family fortune, gives him an ultimatum: either straighten up and get his life together by marrying Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner), or lose his inheritance. The only problem, Arthur has fallen in love Naomi (Greta Gerwig), a simple woman from Queens. Will Arthur give up everything for the woman he loves? Or will he sacrifice the one he loves for the almighty dollar? You can only find out by watching the movie.

Or by thinking logically if you’ve seen any movie that has this plot, which I’m sure you have since 80 percent of movies in existence all have this premise, according to Hunter Camp’s False Movie Facts. And that’s the main problem with the film.

It seems as though, in the case of several bad movies, the creators simply hired a star and said, “Go be yourself.” Which Brand does, and that’s not really a problem, since the lovably troubled rich kid is indeed lovable and charming. He’s toned down a bit, but the persona is more apparent than any character description from a script. The problem is that’s apparently the only thing they were banking on. This is evidenced by the massive amount of onlookers the movie had while filming in New York. People were literally in the background just staring at the production of the movie. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to New York City, but it takes a lot to get the people on the street to stop to see what’s going on. I was on a subway with a woman screaming in tongues, and nobody did anything at all. One of the worst moments of this was in a specific scene outside of Naomi’s house when the people across the street kept changing positions and numbers with each shot. This wouldn’t have been severely distracting if it wasn’t for the fact that they were just staring at Russell Brand.

And oh yeah, the plot! The plot is trite, predictable, and overall boring, but again, I don’t think anyone working on the movie cared about that, but I did. And I’m sure that I’m not the only one out there that likes to watch good movies. So, if you want something that’s original brought to this sort of storyline, well then you need to keep on walking. On the other hand, if you want to witness some really great character moments, then I strongly suggest this one.

The standout of Arthur is the relationship of Brand’s Arthur and the always wonderful Helen Mirren‘s Hobson, who is basically Arthur’s nanny. There is a wonderful wonderful chemistry between Brand’s charismatic klutz and Mirren’s compassionate caretaker. The back and forth between the two is what I’m still thinking about after the credits rolled, and I’m forever grateful that the filmmakers had the foresight to spend a decent amount of time on this material. There are several dry one-liners from Mirren that are sprinkled throughout, several of which that actually made me laugh out loud a little bit. But their relationship is more than the laughs. The connection between the two genuinely feels like an Alfred/Batman type of relationship, or more appropriately any child of a rich family whose parents are too wrapped up in their careers to have time for their children. It’s a believable portrayal of a surrogate mother caring for the person she loves more than anyone else. So, this movie definitely has its moments, moments that I honestly didn’t expect. There are other nice bits throughout the movie, also. The chemistry between Gerwig and Brand suits the film, as well, and provides some sweet moments in an overall predictable movie.

Why would someone who loves geek culture want to watch this movie? The movie memorabilia. In this film there are cameos from the Robin Costume from 1966’s Batman, Batman Forever‘s Batsuit, Batman and Robin‘s lighted and ribbed Batmobile, Scooby Doo‘s The Mystery Machine, a Darth Vader Mask, The General Lee from Dukes of Hazard, Back to the Future‘s DeLorean time machine (complete with Flux Capacitor), and many other hints and references throughout the movie.

All in all, it’s not a great movie, but it’s not the worst. If you or your significant other are a Russell Brand fan, give the movie a shot. His charm, the geek references, and the character moments between Arthur and the two most important women in his fictional life make the movie worth watching. But if you just can’t stand Brand’s humor, you should probably pass on this one.

Bonus Features

Arthur Unsupervised: This misleadingly named feature shows us a behind the scenes look at the creation of the movie. Nothing really noteworthy or in depth, but it does have some short interviews with the cast about how much fun they had filming on the set. Isn’t great hearing how much fun well paid actors had while filming a movie that paid them even more money? It’s the best!

Additional Footage: This aptly titled feature gives us some deleted scenes that were cut simply due to length and nonsense. One scene has Arthur astonished by a subway. He called it a horizontal roller coaster. Do you think a kid that rich never had any toy trains? Of course he had toy trains!

Gag Reel: Have you ever seen a gag reel feature before? They’re really cool features where they take a bunch of funny parts from the movie and cut scenes, splice them together, and make what is ultimately an alternate trailer for the movie. It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but it does it’s job if you want to laugh. You know, if you’re in to that sort of thing. :::turns nose, walks away:::


  1. “Russell Brand fan” is a contradiction in words.

    There is only one Arthur and it was made in 1981.  Anything trying to imitate that movie is an insult to the memory of Dudley Moore.  Years from now, there will only be one Arthur movie shown on TV and that will be the original.  This awful remake will vanish, much like Brand’s career.

    Comment by Steve — August 26, 2011 @ 4:51 pm

  2. This is not the era of the first Arthur. Foster Brooks could not do the “lovable drunk” schtick he did on Dean Martin’s TV series. Martin himself couldn’t be the lovable lush he portrayed (but never was – that was apple juice he drank). That is this film’s biggest problem. We don’t think like that now. Watch the original Arthur – watch Foster Brooks on YouTube – and enjoy. But know that we are (or should be) much smarter than that now.

    Comment by Eric Fisher — August 27, 2011 @ 4:24 pm

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