Arthur is a boozing, partying, carefree billionaire. With a nanny to tuck him in at night, 950 billion dollars at his disposal, and the law enforcement of Manhattan on his side what could go wrong? Russell Brand was probably the best choice for this role. Even so, I was not over the moon about his performance. Anyone can be witty with scripted lines, but timing and delivery are what make the character truly funny and endearing. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy Brand, there was just something not quite right about his performance.
Arthur claims that having fun is his calling and he does it very well. He crashes a batmobile, destroys a beloved landmark, and then celebrates when he finds that he’s finally going to be put in jail. I really felt that I would be laughing a lot more during this movie. Someone behind me thought it was hilarious, but I did not share her feelings on the matter. Admittedly, I laughed aloud a few times. There is a scene in a candy shop involving a gummy bear costume that is particularly amusing, but overall the frequency with which Arthur comes up with on the spot witty remarks is a bit much.
So the story goes that Arthur’s mother – who is only present in his life to control the funds that he has access to – wants him to stop being such a buffoon and get it together so that he may run the Bach company someday. The company has never been run by anyone without the Bach name. If Arthur can’t do it, then who? Enter the radiant Jennifer Garner. It is rare to see Jennifer Garner in a role where she isn’t likable. Except, of course, Daredevil. But that wasn’t her fault. The whole movie was a train wreck. But I digress.
Garner plays Susan Johnson. Her intention is to marry Arthur so that she will have the Bach name and can take over the company for Arthur’s mother. Arthur doesn’t like Susan and ends up falling for Naomi (Greta Gerwig). Naomi’s down to earth factor is a little extreme. I can appreciate that she wants to be the girl who isn’t wooed by money, but come on. His gestures are grand and I think any girl in her place would probably be thrilled to be doted upon in that way. Says the girl who haggled the price of a bagel this morning. Fifty cents is fifty cents I tell ya!
A movie so centralized around spending money and drinking heavily is an indulgence in itself. So I take this movie at face value. I accepted it for what it is, but I did not love it. The plot was often over the top and that wasn’t so great, but it has a lot of heart.
Now, onto my two favorite parts of the movie: Helen Mirren and Luis Guzman. The hired help. Mirren as Hobson is charming, intelligent, and sophisticated to boot! She has been Arthur’s nanny since he was in diapers. She gives the movie an entirely new level of likability. I think she does that with every film she touches though. Luis Guzman played a smaller role, but lemme tell ya, that guy was hilarious! He plays Bitterman the butler. I can honestly say that he got more laughs from me than Brand did.
To reiterate, Brand delivers a punchline well enough, Gerwig is at least memorable, Garner is adorable even when she’s evil, Guzman brings the funny, and Mirren is… well, Mirren. She is gorgeous and lovely dressed in frumpy garb and that is something that few can pull off.
I say, go ahead and see Arthur. It’s good for a couple of laughs. The movie’s heart is in the right place and the message is actually a really great one. The delivery is just a little wacky. But hey, sometimes we all need a little bit of wacky in our lives.