Arthur is not as bad as the critics make out. In fact, some of the criticisms I’ve read previously suggest a lot of the opinions are knee-jerk reactions to a remake of a ‘classic’. However, there are some genuine laughs to be had from our drunk protagonist stumbling between the moon and New York City. I know it’s crazy, but it’s true. (See what I did there…)
The best scenes seem to be those where Russell Brand, who plays the titular Arthur, has been allowed to run away with the script and, as a result, breathe life into Arthur. His mistrusting rant at a docile horse and his childlike reaction to being involved in a police chase stick out as being examples of how Brand can confidently play innocent and friendly. The problem is that these scenes of Arthur the man-child are bookended with scenes of Arthur the sleazy Lothario. All men are created with two sides to their personality, but the extremes shown here suggest that Arthur could be more schizophrenic than alcoholic. One minute driving around in the Batmobile; the next, talking about how he likes his women flexible. It just doesn’t work.
The inconsistency in Arthur’s character isn’t just found there. We are constantly reminded by others in the film that Arthur is a borderline genius and yet this is the man who has never seen spaghetti hoops and doesn’t understand how to hail a taxi or what email is. If he’s so intelligent, how come modern life seems to have passed him by.
The biggest problem with Arthur is how quickly it runs out of steam after the first act is over. Nothing happens for a very long time and no amount of Brand falling over furniture or gurning changes that fact. A sub-plot involving him sobering up whilst he looks after a sick Helen Mirren is all very well and natural in a film about alcohol, but it adds nothing to anything. When it’s all over you realise your mind has drifted and you’re counting the tiles on the ceiling.
I repeat, Arthur is not a bad film, but it’s not as zany and comedic as it wants to be.