While I loved the original and was mesmerized by Dudley Moore’s performance as the drunken, unruly and idiotic zillionaire, I am afraid I can’t say the same for the remake. Not saying that it is a terrible movie or anything. The 2011 remake of the 1981 movie is as good an update as you could ask for, but the liberties that the writer and the director took with the source material didn’t work out as well. The remake stars Rusell Brand in the role that earned Dudley Moore an Oscar nomination. It also stars Jennifer Garner, Helen Mirren and Greta Gerwig.
The basic premise of the movie is similar to the original. Arthur is an immensely rich and spoiled New Yorker who spends all of his days boozing, partying and sleeping with women. He doesn’t have a care in the world. The opening scene with him riding to a fundraiser, organized by his mother, in a batmobile just shows how insanely ludicrous and lame his actions are. He has a “nanny”, called Hobson, who takes care of him, played by Helen Mirren. She is the wise old sage who provides him with good advice and is the voice of sanity in his insane world. Things start to go down for Arthur when her mother gives him ultimatum: marry Susan Johnson (played by Jennifer Garner) or else she will cut him off. Arthur has never learned to live without money. He begrudgingly agrees to entering in this marriage of convenience. But a twist arrives in his life in the form of the cute and lovable and seemingly impervious to his wealth, Naomi Quinn (played by Greta Gerwig). Now, it is easy to see where the movie goes from here. Arthur has to come to terms with his goofiness and grow up. He has to choose between wealth and true love. And most of the movie is spent in this manner.
Now, the movie follows pretty close to the original but I had a few problems, few holes that leaked some of the honey of the movie. Firstly it was a gamble to let the genders of Hobson reverse. The makers took it and it hangs in the balance. It doesn’t destroy the film but it doesn’t really much do for it, either. Helen Mirren’s performance is strong, solid but it is just about regular. It is not the Hobson we saw in the original. Secondly, the character of Susan is made (I don’t know whether intentionally or not) a lot more bitchy and villainous that the original Susan. This was not a good idea. It looked like that the makers were trying really hard to make us hate Susan. The scenes between Susan’s father, Bert (Nick Nolte) and Arthur are not as fun as they were in the original, rather they are reduced to unfunny gags. I mean who doesn’t remember the great introductory lines between the two in the original: “I don’t drink. Nobody in my family does.”/”You must never be out of ice, then.”
Rusell Brand as Arthur Bach surprised me and loved what he did with the role. His oneliners land perfect and brought a smile to my face even in the mundane parts of the movie. It may not be as good as Moore’s but it surely stands on its own and is pretty fun to watch.
In the end I would like to say that probably my love for the original stands in my way of liking this movie. This doesn’t mean that I hated this. I enjoyed watching it but in the back of my head it was always a voice that said that the original was probably more funny.