A remake of ARTHUR: why?

I saw the film ARTHUR when it first came out (1981) and I was about 14. I thought it was hysterical. I watched it again not long ago- it’s still funny. I wouldn’t put it on my Top 5 list but it’s great for what it is- zany escapist romantic comedy. While it’s never really explained how Dudley Moore- scion of an enormously rich NYC family- has a working class English accent, you don’t really care, especially when his butler Hobson (John Gielgud) supplied all the arrogance anybody could possibly need in a performance that earned him a deserved Academy Award.

They made a sequel to it- Arthur on the Rocks- in 1988. It had its moments, mainly the cameo by Gielgud, and also a role by a pre-famous Kathy Bates, but generally skippable.

More skippable would seem to be the ongoing remake. Russell Brand is the title character with Helen Mirren as the Hobson figure. (I can see Judi Dench much easier in the role.)


1- Why?

2- What are your expectations?

3- Will you probably see it?

About the same as my expectations were for any of the Pink Panther remakes. Actors like Alan Arkin and Steve Martin may be talented but Peter Sellers already nailed the role. Why not do something original rather than redo something that was already done right?

I’ve been scratching my head over this for days - until I saw pics at I Watch Stuff this weekend, I thought the talk about an Arthur remake was a joke.


  1. some studio exec is deluded into thinking people will pay to watch it
  2. it will be a gigantic flop
  3. hell no.

The sequel was either a flop ($14 million U.S.- don’t know about domestic) or at most disappointing and most of the movie going public today has no memory of the first one so I can’t think nostalgia will help.

A problem I have is that Dudley Moore’s character was a drunk but he was likeable; you felt he was a good person who happened to have one helluva drinking problem. You couldn’t really see him harming himself or anybody else- he was just a playboy and ne’er do well. Russell Brand is too easy to imagine rolling naked in a mound of cocaine and slipping rufies to maids.

1- Why?

Because God hates us. I thought last year’s STAR TREK made that clear, and if not that, there’s the STAR WARS prequels. God exists and hates us and plans to send us all to Hell whether we’re good or not, and he greenlights movies like these to give us a preview of coming attractions.

2- What are your expectations?
A preview of Hell, of course.
3- Will you probably see it?
Only if Natalie Portman’s in it.

Pete Baynham is the writer - very good pedigree.


In a theoretical sense. This will be his first actual script for a movie.

Oh Gawd NO! Dudley Moore is the only Arthur as far as I’m concerned.

Plus, Russell Brand creeps me the hell out. Seriously, he gives me the shivers a bad way. Super gross

The original worked because Dudley Moore looked and behaved like the only person he could physically harm with his drunken antics was himself, and that the biggest threat from his lack of sobriety was his inability to treat other people thoughtfully. We could cheer for him, we wanted him to straighten up and fly right for the sake of love, and we could see what Liza Minelli saw in him, his immaturity was boyish, his charm wasn’t a put-on.

Russell Brand, on the other hand, looks like he’s dangerous. As man who thinks he’s charming but isn’t, a man whose immaturity is more overgrown frat boy (or whatever its English equivalent is) than Peter Pan. Definitely the sort who would roofie the chambermaids, and the girls at the club, and his own mother, if that’s what would get him what he wanted. Giving him a woman to act as his parental figure/conscience is all the worse. I cannot begin to fathom how he is going to be a sympathetic character in any fashion.

This is going right in the “not if I were paid to watch it” category.

  1. Lack of imagination in Hollywood these days. What else explains any remake?
  2. Another crappy remake.
  3. Gawd, NO!

At last, someone specific that didn’t like “Star Drek” either!

I was effing disappointed that they didn’t seem to hire someone to write the script that had even seen any Star Trek production.

I can kind of buy an alternate reality sort of scenario. But the fact that
[li]Spock waas on the Enterprise 14 years before Kirk[/li][li]Chekov was about 10-12 years younger than Kirk[/li][li]Spock didn’t succumb to emotions, even for a hot non-fair, non-maiden like Uhura[/li][/ul]

amongst miriad of other things has me dismiss this movie as non-canon.


Plus which, Dudley Moore in 1981 was an established comedian, comedic actor, and comedy writer. He had Beyond the Fringe and Not Only But Also under his belt; he’d been in a bunch of films and starred in several. Russell Brand has, to my knowledge, had one hit. A breakout with his first starring role, which was close to being his first role full stop. The more I think about it, the more ill-advised it seems. To the point where “Russell Brand” might become shorthand for “Extremely brief career.”

Given that Russel Brand, who’s as ugly as sin, has gotten both a big budget starring role AND Katy Perry, one can only assume he’s got a fucking genie friend or something.

Brand is filming two movies in which Helen Mirren plays a role usually played by a man this year; the other is The Tempest in which she plays Prospera.

Speaking of patrician actresses reprising roles previously played by men, has anyone heard about the Oh, God! remake set to star Betty White as God and Paul Rudd in the John Denver role. That one actually has me intrigued a little bit. The Arthur remake does not.

I love Betty White- I do- but she’s almost in danger of getting overexposed. Plus if I were going with an octogenarian as God for a remake I’d get Mel Brooks.

…who (together with Peter Cook) somehow managed to elevate hysterical alcoholic sensibilities to Sublime Art.

Arthur was a sort of watered-down commodification of material that was familiar and well-worn territory for Dudley Moore. That sweet spot in the Venn diagram of staggering drunk and brilliantly witty is no easy thing for a performer to simulate. Peter Cook and Dudley Moore managed it so well because (as luck would have it) they both spent a good deal of time being genuinely staggering drunk and brilliantly witty.

I have serious doubts about Russell Brand’s ability to make Arthur a sympathetic character. I understand the casting, as he does have a little bit of the eccentric, out-of-control personality and manic energy that gave Dudley Moore his appeal. That said, he has three serious obstacles to overcome:[ol][]He sucks rocks as an actor.[]The character of Arthur is well removed from his experience, while Arthur was written as a an ever-so-slight caricature of Dudley Moore.[]It isn’t 1980 any more and it will be hard work to modify the character to accommodate contemporary attitudes towards excessive alcohol consumption.[]I am drunk off my ass right now.[/ol]

But wouldn’t you want the remake to be funny?

I can’t wait to see how they handle charming scenes like Arthur drinking himself stupid in the car on the way to visit his girlfriend.

Even by the time of the 1988 sequel attitudes had changed; the second half of the movie was about him getting sober. In fact when he sees Hobson and wonders how, H tells him “my money is on a drunken stupor”. A long time gone by then from Matt Helm’s dashboard martini bar.

I wonder if somebody could convince Mel Gibson that ARTHUR remake could be his comeback role, perhaps with Parish Hilton as Susan, Lindsay Lohan as Linda, Tyler Perry as Grandmother, and Robert Blake as Hobson. I can’t say I’d see the movie but I’d definitely watch a documentary about the shooting.

Yeah, if any one in that crowd got shot I’d pay to see it too. My money’s on Robert Blake pulling the trigger though.