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Other than the English accents, there really isn’t all that much connecting Russell Brand to Dudley Moore, and I am not sure if the world required a remake of Moore’s semi-iconic comedy ARTHUR ($36). Moore brought a childlike an innocent quality to his drunken millionaire playboy, a character who was far more forgivable for his foibles in the 1980’s. Playing the same character in 2011, Brand comes off as more childish than childlike, and season after season of reality television shows like CELEBRITY REHAB certainly make the character’s drunken foibles less forgivable, or even excusable. Also, Jennifer Garner is seemingly miscast in ARTHUR playing an unlikable character, and would have been far better suited to the role of Brand’s romantic interest. Helen Mirren comes across far better in her thankless role, but it remains unlikely that she will score Oscar gold, as did John Gielgud, with his take on the original character. Despite my misgivings with the production, ARTHUR does provide a number of smiles and chuckles across its running time.

The premise of ARTHUR finds Russell Brand in the title role, as the drunken playboy Arthur Bach, whose outrageous exploits are the kind of tabloid fodder… of which yellow journalistic editors dream nightly. Responsibility for cleaning up after Arthur's little messes and trying to keep the man child somewhat in check falls to Lillian Hobson (Helen Mirren), who started out as Arthur's childhood nanny, but has become surrogate mother/confidante/best friend in the many years of their long association. Arthur's own mother, Vivienne (Geraldine James) had hoped to turn the reigns of her corporation, Bach Worldwide, over to her son, but Arthur remains an unsuitable choice for the company and its nervous stockholders. Vivienne shrewd assistant Susan (Jennifer Garner) is a far more suitable choice to run Bach Worldwide, so a deal is struck for Arthur to marry Susan and keep a "Bach" at the head of the corporation.

Of course, Arthur doesn’t really like the calculating Susan, nor does he have any intention of marrying her… at first. Unfortunately for Arthur, his mother gives him an ultimatum: marry Susan or be completely cut off from his nine hundred fifty million dollar inheritance. Although Arthur accedes to his mother’s wishes, and agrees to marry Susan, he finds himself falling in love with Naomi Quinn (Greta Gerwig), a penniless, unlicensed tour guide and hopeful children’s book author. So will Arthur choose true love… or the money??? The cast ARTHUR also includes Nick Nolte, Luis Guzman and John Hodgman.

Warner Home Video has made ARTHUR available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. ARTHUR features a very pretty to look at 1080p presentation the smacks of new theatrical comedy sensibilities. As you might expect, ARTHUR features bright, colorful and attractive image that usually appear quite sharp, nicely defined and dimensional. There are ample levels of fine detail and texturing, so there is relatively little to complain about it that area. Colors are vibrant and well saturated, while the flesh tones sometimes come across as a little a little under-ripe or a little overripe depending upon how an individual sequence is lit. Blacks are deep, while the whites are crisp. Contrast has been given something of a push, which causes some visual elements to pop. Shadow detail can be under-whelming. The elements from which ARTHUR has been mastered are free from flaws. Minimal grain just smacks of that new comedy smell.

ARTHUR is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Talky in nature, ARTHUR comes with a fairly unremarkable comedy mix. With this type of material, the outlying channels generally see limited activity; ARTHUR is no exception to the rule. The soundstage is forward focused with occasional effects; environmental noises, general ambience and musical fill falling into the rears. There is stereo imaging across he front, whether it be sound effects or music related. Thanks to the lossless encode, fidelity is very strong with the musical component getting a boost, while the sound effects give off a convincing air. Voices are cleanly reproduced and the dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the extras. An eleven-minute Featurette entitled Arthur Unsupervised!, as well as Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel comprise the standard extras. Disc two offers a DVD copy of the movie for those who are on the fence about making the upgrade to Blu-ray, along with a Digital Copy of the film.

As I stated above, ARTHUR does provide a number of smiles and chuckles across its running time. The Blu-ray presentation offers a pretty picture, but some pretty ordinary comedy sound.


Arthur (Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) (2011)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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