Rarely do I enjoy a remake more than the original, but Arthur falls into the "exception but not the norm," category. While I do appreciate the 1981 version, I love the 2011 interpretation! Most film critics will draw a direct comparison between these two films, and my advice...don't do it. Yes the story line and "lessons learned" are the same, but the characters, flow of the film, and side stories are not.
Everyone can appreciate a "rich man makes good" storyline, but like so many things, it's all in the delivery. Dudley Moore plays the very best obnoxious, pretentious, over the top annoying human being I believe I've ever seen on the big screen, but the 2011 Arthur is intentionally not the same. Russell Brand plays the equally rich, equally uninhibited Arthur, but surprisingly enough, there's something endearing with a childlike innocence about him. He is a spoiled kid, completely out of touch with reality but with a heart of gold. His generosity and love for humanity makes you want to reach through the screen and give him a big hug...followed by a good shaking.
Helen Mirren plays a stern but lovable Hobson, while Jennifer Garner steps out of her typical, doe-eyed, innocent role to play a vindictive and opportunistic Susan Johnson, ready to claw her way to the top no matter what it takes. Greta Gerwig comes onto the scene as Arthur's love interest, Naomi, and does a spectacular job in her "girl next door" role. Gerwig does a fantastic job in taking a fairly flat character and making her accessible and lovable.
Arthur had audience members (including me) laughing at every turn while creating a sense of connection throughout the entire film. It was interesting to feel a common ground with Brand's character, because really, who among us can relate to someone worth $950 million?! While this is definitely a feel-good kind of movie, and my expectations were for Russell Brand to play his usual, over the top self, he surprised me with his ability to capture the audience and play a lovestruck man without annoying every fiber of my being.
Arthur will be in theaters tomorrow, April 8th, and from what I've seen, critics are caught up in the "Russell Brand vs. Dudley Moore" competition. Take my advice here, and give it a shot. If you can resist the urge to fall into the hypercritical, "my Arthur is better than your Arthur" tickle fight, you'll love it!