Tag: Dudley Moore


by on Feb.14, 2011, under Movies

Russell Brand is your new Dudley Moore:

I remembered the first movie vaguely but fondly from my youth; Netflix obliged On Demand and I took another look at it last weekend.

What struck me immediately is how strongly the 1981 film plays against the tagline “don’t you wish you were Arthur?” Watch that trailer; Moore’s bray is as grating in the movie as it is there. Impressively, Moore’s drunk antics are rooted in frustration and imprisonment, and for the first ten minutes of the film (much of which is in the trailer) it’s obvious that he’s the only one laughing at his jokes and everyone pretends to like him because’s he’s rich. When John Gielgud arrives the following morning, we get to meet Arthur in a human relationship for the first time. It’s a complex relationship that forms the heart of the movie, and it’s impressive that we spend as much time with Arthur before we see him through the eyes of someone who cares for him beyond what he’s paid to do.

I can see Russell Brand playing unlikable, but I have a hard time thinking he’ll stay unfunny for that long. Brand on a rising arc of world comedy domination; when Moore made Arthur he was long past his sketch-comedy heyday (his early 60’s group Beyond The Fringe was the acknowledged ur-Monty Python). His Arthur lands somewhere between a dramatic role and a comic showpiece, and it’s stronger when it’s the former. I suspect Brand’s will be funnier but more slight.

I do like that the Brand trailer sets up his betrothed as too sexually forthright for Peter-Pan Arthur, and it’s of a piece that his object of desire would be the comparatively undersexed Greta Gerwig. (Think of her wonderfully awkward turn with Ben Stiller in Greenberg.) Jill Eikenberry’s Susan Johnson is WASPily frigid. It feels contemporary and insightful that Arthur would fear sex, although it may just be played as a cartoon.

Cross-posted at Alyssa Rosenberg‘s joint.

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