In 2010’s Get Him to the Greek wiry British funnyman Russell Brand played a spoiled lush whose immature antics threatened his rock-star comeback. In the 2011’s Arthur Brand plays a spoiled lush whose immature antics threaten his billion-dollar inheritance. Greek turned out to be one of last year’s underrated comic gems; Arthur not so much. Why? The two films are wildly different to be sure but I submit that the biggest reason for the disparity in quality can be traced to one crucial distinction: Arthur is a remake and as such carries with it the acknowledged lack of creativity inherent in just about every remake not directed by the Coen Brothers.
And Arthur does what most bad remakes seem to do dropping what’s essential about the original film keeping what isn’t and wrapping it all up in a glossy generic heavily-promoted package. The storyline is essentially unchanged – to retain access to his family’s vast fortune perpetually inebriated playboy Arthur Bach (Brand) is arranged to marry a respectable woman he disdains (Jennifer Garner) but he jeopardizes his inheritance by falling for a girl of humble means (Greta Gerwig). Much of the soul and charm of the original film are gone however sacrificed for a succession of canned comic scenarios that probably seemed funny in brainstorming sessions (Russell Brand in a Batman costume? Hilarious!) but are considerably less so when rendered on-screen.
But hey – all the characters’ names are the same! And they’ve all been updated with contrived tweaks that these days passes for invention! Arthur’s acerbic English butler Hobson is now an acerbic English nanny (Helen Mirren); his African-American chauffer Bitterman is now a Puerto Rican-American (Luis Guzman); his betrothed Susan Johnson (Garner) formerly a dainty debutante is now a pugnacious high-powered executive; etc. Brand for his part has little hope of measuring up to Dudley Moore who scored an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the title character in the original. He does get a few choice lines and he manages to conjure a respectable romantic spark with the luminous Gerwig (trying her best with a character conceived as little more than an assortment of manufactured quirks) but his talents appear severely constrained by a script that can do little more than dress him up in zany outfits and hope for the best.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter
In what might be a real life clash of British titans, Warner Bros. Pictures has cast Academy Award winner Helen Mirren opposite Russell Brand in their remake of the 1981 Dudley Moore hit, Arthur, says the Hollywood Reporter.
The original movie centered on a boozy playboy who is set to inherit a fortune if he marries an heiress his family thinks will make something out of him. However, he falls in love with a working-class woman and turns to his valet for help when his family makes him choose between money and love.
Mirren will play Brand's valet, the role originally portrayed by John Gielgud, who won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance. The gender switch up doesn't bother us in the least; having an actress of her caliber in the production raises our interest in a project that we previously felt neither here now there about.
Peter Baynham has written the screenplay for the remake, which is being produced by Larry Brezner, Kevin McCormick and Chris Bender.
Based on the best-selling book by Mark Foster Game tells the remarkable real-life story of Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf). He was a working-class immigrant kid who in the early 1900s turned the privileged world of golf on its ear. The story begins with Francis working as a caddie at a posh country club where he masters the game by quietly practicing on his own. His French-born father (Elias Koteas) thinks he's wasting his time and should be earning an honest wage but Francis is far too smitten with the game to give it up. Francis finally gets his big break when an amateur spot opens up at the 1913 U.S. Open. With a feisty 10-year-old caddie named Eddie (Josh Flitter) by his side egging him on Francis plays the best he ever has. He eventually finds himself facing off against the sport's undisputed champion Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) a U.S. Open winner and six-time British Open champion (a record that still stands today). Their legendary battle changes the face of the sport forever--but I wouldn't necessarily call it the greatest game ever.
Game is one of those juicy little biopics actors can really sink their teeth into. Starting with our young lead LaBeouf (Holes) is sufficiently determined as the guy playing against impossible odds. His Francis with his liquid brown eyes and winning smile is full of optimism and raw talent that propels him into the majors. And he looks pretty authentic swinging a golf club too. Still it may be time for LaBeouf to move on from the Disney family fare and do something grittier sort of like what he showed in Constantine. Dillane--who was so achingly good in The Hours as Virginia Woolf's beleaguered husband--also does a fine job as the legendary Vardon a man haunted by his own demons. In a way Game is a story about both men who have more in common than they realize. Although a top professional in the sport Vardon has to fight against the elitist golfing community's prejudices. You see Vardon grew up dirt poor on the plains of Scotland and because of his background was never permitted into any "gentleman's" clubs. The cast of colorful supporting players add to the film especially Flitter as the caustic but encouraging Eddie. He may be small but he packs a wallop. The last shot of the movie features Francis and Eddie walking off the golf course at sunset evoking the classic Casablanca ending line "This is the start of a beautiful friendship"--which apparently really happened. The real-life Eddie and Francis remained friends for the rest of their lives.
The main slice against Game is that it's about golf. Besides comedies such as Caddyshack and Happy Gilmore a serious movie about the game really isn't going to stir your soul say like football or baseball. But actor-turned-director Bill Paxton--who made his directorial debut with the creepy Frailty--takes the story and keeps it convincingly affecting. Much like Seabiscuit it's the real-life historical context that makes Game even more compelling. Paxton painstakingly details how the game was played at the turn of the century--and who was allowed to play it. The whole discriminatory arrogance surrounding the game makes the stakes even higher for our heroes. Vardon had a score to settle while Ouimet simply became the game's new hero paving the way for legendary whiz kids like Tiger Woods to step up on the green. Paxton also views Game as a Western. The final golf round between Vardon and Ouimet is the ultimate shootout á la the OK Corral in which the camera angles are inventive--a bird's eye view of the ball sailing through the air or gliding on the green into the hole. Plus he keeps the tension as taut as he can considering the less than exhilarating subject matter. Oh come on who isn't a sucker for a good sports underdog story even if it is golf?
Dave (Barry Watson) Adam (Michael Rosenbaum) and Doofer (Harland Williams) make up the social committee at Kappa Omega Kappa (KOK get it?) a chauvinistic fraternity that chastises women based on their looks. But when the evil KOK president frames them for the theft of fraternity funds the trio suddenly find themselves out on the street. They must now find a place to stay on campus until they can clear their name and get back into the fraternity's good graces. Until this point the film almost makes Freddy Got Fingered look relevant. Then the three protagonists throw on women's garb and join the sorority Delta Omicron Gamma (DOG get it?) which just happens to be in the middle of a membership drive. At least now it gets funny. For the rest of the film Dave Adam and Doofer become Daisy Adina and Roberta and find out what it's like to wear eyeliner heels and be less than desirable. Admittedly there are some laugh-out-loud moments interspersed in this inane comedy; when a fellow sister enters the guys' room and asks if any of them has a maxi pad because she has soaked through all of hers Adina laments to his friends: "We're not supposed to see what's behind the curtain." Although most of the jokes in this pic are blatantly stereotypical I have to admit that when Adina is elated to find the dress he wants in his size on the sale rack I knew where he was coming from.
Barry Watson has gone to extremes to shed the good boy image of Matt Camden which he has portrayed on the WB's 7th Heaven since 1996. In Sorority Boys Watson plays "the pretty one"--Daisy. His performance however is bland and despite starring in this raunchy comedy Watson still comes off as the angelic one who falls in love with the brainy girl in glasses. On the other hand Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luther on the WB's Smallville) is hilarious as Adam/Adina. You feel bad when he gets laughed at on campus and almost vindicated when he hurls a rock through the windshield of a car filled with idiots. Harland Williams completes the trio as Doofer/Roberta the sensitive one that bonds with his sorority sisters. His character is probably the least original one but Williams still has some of the funniest scenes in the film. Unfortunately Doofer is not much different from the characters Williams portrayed in Freddy Got Fingered and Half Baked. The head of the DOG sorority is played ably by Melissa Sagemiller(Soul Survivors). Sagemiller's character has a sweet earthiness to her and is not your typical bombshell made ugly by frumpy clothes and glasses.
With Sorority Boys Wally Wolodarsky delivers a totally unspectacular movie rife with crude humor and tasteless jokes. However I didn't find myself particularly bothered or offended by the film because it satirizes college fraternities which in my opinion are chauvenistic and elitist to begin with. In the film's opening sequence for example the KOK president is getting ready to punish pledges with something that involves Crisco and hamsters. Crass yes but isn't humiliation what hazing is all about? Perhaps it is in bad taste but I laughed when Roberta admits he is addicted to porn during an all-girl support session and I laughed even harder when it's his turn to clean the bathroom and he yanks a massive wad of hair out of the drain. "It's like a Wookie man!" he exclaims followed by a hilarious impression of Chewbacca. Sure there are some not so funny moments (the duel with dildos is just plain dumb) and their plan to clear their names is completely implausible. But why shouldn't we appreciate a good laugh at the Greek system's expense once in a while? The film would have been frighteningly realistic had the three boys not learned a valuable lesson at the end.