The King Buffoon
Can one lose touch with reality? I suppose if one has multi-millions to one's name without even trying, then probably yes. There's a rather poignant moment in the film that a key character hammers this point home to the titular Arthur, played by Russell Brand, that brought out a smile inside of me since it brought to mind how some folks in power start behaving as ridiculously as Arthur and spouting some of the most inane nonsense just because they can, and do so because there's not a worry in their world possessing that kind of obscene wealth.
Yet again we have another remake of a movie descend upon us, with the original Arthur some 30 years ago played by the late comedian Dudley Moore. Russell Brand takes over the main role as the alcoholic playboy whose family riches fuels his major consumption habits of wine, women, and plenty of movie cars from the Batmobile to the DeLorean without time travel components. Getting into trouble seems to be his hobby, with butler and driver Bitterman (Luis Guzman) and nanny Hobson (Helen Mirren) ever ready to bail him out. You wonder just when this man child will grow up, which forms the crux of the issue at hand when his mom Vivienne (Geraldine James) issues an ultimatum for him to marry her trusty assistant, the ambitious Susan (Jennifer Garner) or be cut off from his inheritance of a billion dollars forever.
It brings to mind just how some will want to be amongst the elites and are willing to do just about anything to achieve that. And while Jennifer Garner has limited screen time to make you really hate her Susan character, you can feel the type of craving she goes after to be associated with a family with its own coat of arms. With her rich contractor dad (Nick Nolte) money isn't an issue, but to be associated with Arthur's last name of Bach that owns a global conglomerate rather than to still be looked down upon for a less than modest family background, now that's something to aspire to, even if it means going through a sham marriage that Arthur is reluctant to get into. I suppose this also carries some weight when put into political ambition that we see today, since some lust after the more surefire way to get into a seat of power through the compromising of principles, versus the school of harder knocks when sticking to one's ideals against something that's fundamentally wrong.
And it's also because the story's actual romantic thread has that something going on between Arthur and a random lady he meets on the streets, the tour guide Naomi (Greta Gerwig), who proves to Arthur that life isn't necessarily always centered around the money, although you do know that a little something does help with the daily bills, and a network of names do help to open doors to new opportunities, just as how Arthur helps her on the sly to push her writing/drawing talents through. In fact this films is really about Arthur and the four women in his life, one after his last name, his mother, his true romantic interest, and Hobson.
Originally a male butler in the original, this remake has Helen Mirren step in as the nanny, or more accurately the surrogate mother since Arthur's biological one cannot peel herself away from the business. For all his flaws, Hobson is the one to see through to Arthur's strength, even though his constant shenanigans test her every patience. Helen Mirren and Russell Brand share that incredible chemistry together on screen, that probably gave reason enough why someone ought to sit through this remake, with Mirren putting in her fair share of gravitas in a role that may seem like an over-glamourous Alfred role to a Bruce Wayne, dishing out good advice laced with sarcasm if warranted.
And the subplot which took the cake involves Arthur being woken up to have lost touch with the common man, and to prove a point he was to seek a job, which naturally demonstrated he cannot. It's a reminder to those sitting in ivory towers that without coming down once in a while in all earnestness to learn about the plight of the masses, one can almost be sure of losing touch, and begin to spout nonsense and behaving in a jackass fashion like how Arthur does it. I hate to politicize the film, but with the environment we're in currently, one cannot fail to see how there are those who belong to the Arthur camp, others belonging to the Susans of the world, or even the Hobsons who remain blindly loyal and probably see gold even when Arthur descends into idiocy.