There is a LOT of hate being spewed towards this movie right now and I can understand why. It is yet another remake of a movie that probably didn't need to be remade.
The original film was, for lack of a better word, fantastic. Dudley Moore's crowning achievement and one of John Gielgud's finest performances. You remember Gielgud right? Hobson? He, one who's in the company with Olivier as one of the finest actors of 20th century, brought such an aloof manner yet showcased a genuined affection for the lovable drunk. His wit and acidic tongue added a much needed voice of sanity to Moore's drunken antics.
Now, some would say that there was really no need, at all, to remake it and I can't even say that I disagree. The original film stands on its own and has, at least for me, withstood the test of time. It still makes me laugh a LOT and Moore is just hard to resist as the perpetually inebriated Arthur Bach.
I do, however, like Russell Brand a fair bit. His standup is quite entertaining and, despite what some may think, I think he made the character Aldous Snow so much better than it probably should have been. I have to admit I was eager to see what he could do with a role like this. This is a man who lives in excess, parties hard and well, lives far too fast. There are similarities there, but in this instance Brand manages to infuse the same role with something else. Moore brought charm to it and so does Brand. I was apprehensive about it for one reason only: I was afraid Russell would do his best imitation of Moore being Arthur. Thankfully that did not occur here.
We are, instead, left with a movie that is great in some spots, okay in others and a few parts that just didn't quite strike me as all that funny. Helen Mirren taking on the role of Hobson actually worked well in my opinion though she didn't have quite the same impact as Gielgud's butler did. Brand, on the other hand, can sometimes be tough to like and in this movie I found it hard to not like him. I really did.
There isn't much deviation from the original structure of the plot allbeit with some modern touches thrown in here and there. We have the arranged marriage to up and coming Susan Johnson who seeks to make herself an even bigger star of the corporate world by hitching herself to the Bach name. The true love interest, played here by Greta Gerwig, is still just as cute and relatable as anything Liza Minelli brought to the role. I felt Greta Gerwig was a real win for the casting director here. She was fantastic as Arthur's would-be soulmate, Linda. She is a nice woman. She is a beautiful woman. She is the yin to Arthur's yang and it worked so damn well.
The movie has strong supporting performances overall, just as the original did, but I can't help but feel that Brand just didn't quite knock it out of the park the way Dudley did. There is a lot to like here, though, as the dialogue was actually pretty well written and there are some great visuals as well. Did I laugh at it? Sure I did. As much as I did while watching the original? Not as much but that doesn't make this a bad movie.
I sometimes wonder if I see the same movie as some other critics out there see. If a curmudgeon like Ebert, as lately he has been one as much as I adore the man, can see the good in it then why can't some twit from the Village Voice or whatever see it as well. This was, as far as remakes go, not bad at all. The original is still better, but then again its tough to recapture the same magic that the first one had going for it. This is definitely one that would be a great matinee pick.