After nearly a year of bleary-eyed, wary regarding, here is the first official look at Russell Brand taking over for Dudley Moore in the remake of Arthur, a film about a sozzled multimillionaire whose refusal to marry a cold society girl results in his getting cut off from his fortunes and finding Christopher Cross-soundtracked love with a commoner. Of course, we’ve known for a while that this is a slightly different take: For starters, Arthur’s stiff-upper-lipped valet once played by John Gielgud has been gender-reversed into an equally tough-love nanny played by Helen Mirren, making for all sorts of strange Oedipal sexual tension.
For another, alcohol doesn’t seem to be Arthur’s problem here—at least, not in the trailer—but rather a more general refusal to grow up, stop playing with official Darth Vader helmets and the Batmobile (the one from Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever, anyway), and give in to the surprisingly aggressive sexual advances of Jennifer Garner. As for Greta Gerwig, playing the more down-to-earth object of Arthur’s socially frowned-upon affection, she’s barely glimpsed at all, and the smooth sounds of getting caught between the moon and New York City have been replaced by the thump of “Rebel Rebel” and “Under Pressure.” So any fears that this would end up being an unnecessary note-for-note rehash seem to have been allayed; this is very much Brand and Mirren’s film (though Luis Guzmán and Nick Nolte also get in there), and that might not be such a bad thing after all.
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