I am not a particularly big fan of the original Arthur film. I thought it was funny when I was a kid, because Dudley Moore was drunk all the time. Then I tried watching it again on Netflix Instant with a date last year, and after about twenty minutes the lady asked if we could watch something else because she found Moore’s performance so abrasive. I did not put up any argument. Point being, I couldn’t care less that they remade the film with Russell Brand. I certainly don’t think Brand is this generation’s Dudley Moore. But whatever.
The trailer for Brand’s Arthur – featuring Helen Mirren in the role that comically won John Gielgud his only Oscar – has gone live:
I’ve certainly seen worse trailers, but even ignoring the quality of the jokes themselves, there is something about the timing in this trailer that seem weirdly off. Also the musical choices are slumber inducing. For funzies, I’ve decided to throw in the trailer for the original Arthur for the purposes of comparison.
Now, I’m not saying this is an amazing trailer. But it has a certain rhythm to it. The jokes come at you with purpose – boom, boom – marked off almost into little chapters by those bizarre title card bumpers featuring Moore’s signature obnoxious (or delightful, depending on your tastes) laugh. Beyond that, Moore really had a unique character for Arthur (love it or hate it). I guess maybe such a thing won’t fly for a family film in 2011, but it seems odd that Arthur isn’t a lovable drunk anymore. That was basically the entire character in the original film, and certainly the foundation for Moore’s iconic performance, which kind of hearkened back to the vaudevillian traditions of the stumbling but sympathetic wino. Brand’s character just seems, well, like Brand – a low energy man-child. The enthusiasm that Moore brought to the part seems absent here. They’ve replaced Arthur’s rascally and self-aware wit with naive-idiot jokes. That just inherently less funny to me.
I was also going to say that it is a little embarrassing to watch Mirren here, but then I remembered National Treasure 2 and I felt better. Maybe she’ll get an Oscar for this too.