A sleeper hit in 1981, Arthur grossed nearly $100 million in the U.S. alone, won two Oscars (for best song and supporting actor, John Gielgud) and nominations for star Dudley Moore and original screenplay. For the 2011 remake, Hobson the butler, now a nanny, switches genders from John Gielgud to Helen Mirren and Russell Brand takes on the title role. While it is unreasonable to expect Brand—an actor with limited range whom some find unbearable—to redefine the iconic role, he does manage to deliver a solid, mid-level comedy.

Arthur (2011)Ridiculously wealthy manchild, womanizer and booze hound Arthur Bach (Brand) is the only heir to his family’s billion dollar fortune and corporation, Bach Worldwide. However, one too many drunken adventures finds himself in the hot seat with his mother Vivienne (Geraldine James); she issues her son an ultimatum: either marry Vivienne’s business savvy assistant, Susan (Jennifer Garner), or forfeit his billion-dollar inheritance and give up every cent at his disposal. Arthur reluctantly agrees to the marriage—even though he doesn’t like anything about Susan—Arthur turns to the bottle, as his fiancé sets about planning her dream wedding. Meanwhile, Arthur’s lifelong nanny and confidante Hobson (Mirren) tries to keep him out of trouble until the big day. However, a chance encounter with a tour guide named Naomi (Greta Gerwig) makes Hobson’s job nearly impossible. Arthur has found true love, making the decision about marrying Susan even tougher.

While Arthur is as irresponsible as he ever was, the character has made some significant changes in thirty years. Director Jason Winer and screenwriter Peter Baynham veer away from happily making Arthur a cartoonish figure. Instead, they make clear he’s a victim; a victim of his mother’s neglect, his father’s death, and too much money. Unbelievably, he gets away with all his hijinks. Police chuckle and let him slide, strangers merely gawk, store owners and restaurant managers endure him as if they don’t have the authority to toss him out on the street. Brand makes the character lovable enough to make you believe Hobson and Naomi could genuinely care for him.

Jennifer Garner is as obnoxious as the film’s theatrical trailers suggest, but that’s the point; Luis Guzman is fine as Arthur’s chauffeur and only friend, but his talent is wasted here; it’s always good to see Nick Nolte, but his role as Susan’s father belongs in the forgettable column. While the jokes aren’t great, and often feel tired, put together with the bawdiness of Russell Brand, and the humorous primness of Helen Mirren, there’s a lighthearted feel to it all that’s bound to bring smiles to the faces of some. Definitely worth a rental.

The Arthur Blu-ray is presented in its native 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The picture looks quite good. Colors look natural and vibrant. Black levels are strong, and definition is solid. At times, the picture looks a bit dark, creating a slightly gritty appearance. Thankfully, none of this should effect the overall viewing experience.

The lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio does a solid job with the soundtrack. Clean, and clear, dialogue is always understandable. During musical interludes, we are given occasional bass interludes and action in the surrounds. It does the job nicely.

Arthur comes with limited special features:

  • Arthur Unsupervised! (HD, 11 minutes): An EPK featuring the usual talking heads and behind-the-scenes antics.
  • Additional Footage (HD, 10 minutes): Almost a dozen deleted scenes
  • Gag Reel (HD, 1 minute): More an outtake-laced teaser trailer than a gag reel.