Starring: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner, Geraldine James, Nick Nolte, Luiz Guzman.
Director: Jason Winer.
Running time: 110 mins
Money makes the world go around but it can’t buy you love or a flawless update of the Oscar-winning 1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore as the eponymous billionaire and Sir John Gielgud as his long-suffering, butler.
Director Jason Winer and screenwriter Peter Baynham cast Russell Brand as their loveable yet irresponsible man-child, whose limitless fortune allows him to circumvent the laws that keep the rest of society in check.
Unlike his predecessor, Brand doesn’t possess the vulnerability which compelled us to care for Arthur as he boozed towards oblivion.
Instead, this new version opts for risque humour and pop culture references, including crunching appearance by the Batmobile.
Crucially, Winer’s film chooses a female nanny to keep Arthur out of trouble, casting Oscar winner Helen Mirren in this pivotal role.
Arthur Bach (Brand) is heir to his family’s vast fortune, presided over by his emotionally cold mother, Vivienne (Geraldine James).
The headline-grabbing antics of her son threaten the public image of Bach Worldwide and Vivienne summons Arthur to her office.
Vivienne informs Arthur that he will marry corporate executive Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner) to ensure she can take charge of the company.
If Arthur refuses, he will be cut off from his inheritance and privileged lifestyle.
Arthur resigns himself to marital hell, only to run into tour guide and aspiring author Naomi (Greta Gerwig) outside Grand Central Station.
Arthur boasts some nice moments, most of them involving Mirren and Brand whose on screen rapport sustains interest through the unwieldy 110 minute running time.
Brand’s tomfoolery skirts brashness and sexual chemistry with Gerwig simmers but never quite boils.
Meanwhile, Garner vamps it up as the ambitious social climber, whose bullying father (Nick Nolte) doesn’t blink twice when Arthur accidentally shoots him with a nail gun.
Comparisons with the original film are not particularly favourable and in the current climate of global recession and austerity, it’s hard to care about a man with pockets deeper than his feelings.