One of course expects mainstream comedy remakes to be inferior to their original. Just in the past decade or so we have seen The Nutty Professor, The Pink Panther, The Longest Yard, Cheaper by the Dozen, Fun with Dick and Jane, Father of the Bride and a slew of others. And yes, all of these respective remakes were indeed inferior to the original, but this still doesn't hide the fact that none of the originals were all that great to begin with (the original and oft-praised Pink Panther, with the comic genius Peter Sellers at the proverbial wheel, comes the closest, but still no cigar). All of this can also be said of Arthur. The original Dudley Moore vehicle - mediocre with a few predictable but temporarily funny moments. The new Russell Brand vehicle - (again) mediocre with a few predictable but temporarily funny moments. As they say (whoever they are) same old same old.
Brand, who I admit I am a much bigger fan of than one would expect, does have his moments in the movie (his way of timing lines is probably more responsible for my laughter than the rather lackluster screenplay itself) and love interest Greta Gerwig (playing the part played by Liza with a Z in the original) is as sweet and charming as ever (and completely believable as someone you would fall in love with at first sight) and Helen Mirren (regendering the role that won Sir John Gielgud an Oscar) is appropriately both stern and tender (though her role is probably the most cliche of them all). Other aspects of the film - Jennifer Garner's quite silly gold digger, Luis Guzman doing whatever it is Luis Guzman does (am I the only one that finds him to be one of the worst actors getting work today!?) the silly script that in truth is no more or less silly than the original - however do not work whatsoever.
I suppose in the end (and a more saccharine induced ending would be hard to come by) this remake, like many others mentioned earlier, is really no better or worse than the original. Brand gives it his all but that ends up never being enough with the material he is given to work with. Brand is a talented and funny comic and perhaps, if he and we are lucky, someday, somewhere, someone will come up with the perfect vehicle for such a strange little talent as he. I just hope that day comes before it is too late, because if he gets enough Arthurs piled up in a row, who knows what pay-cable obscurity he will fall into. [05/02/11]