ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Review: Funny 'Arthur' remains an unexpectedly likable lout

*** (out of four)

Entitled, alcoholic mega-millionaire Arthur (Russell Brand) may entertain himself by crashing the Batmobile and sparring with Evander Holyfield, but he’s got principles when it comes to love. That leaves Arthur trapped between a rock and a bank account when his tycoon mother says he’ll be cut off if he doesn’t marry uptight Susan (Jennifer Garner), who can’t hold a candle to the far more appealing Naomi (Greta Gerwig, a considerable step up in the cuteness department from Liza Minnelli).

The buzz: Like the 1981 Dudley Moore film of the same name, “Arthur” revolves around a spoiled playboy who finds small ways to endear himself. The big differences in the new “Arthur”: Brand, whose Arthur doesn’t laugh hysterically at his own jokes, is tall and good-looking whereas Moore, uh, isn’t. Also, Helen Mirren takes over for John Gielgud as Arthur's caretaker. Oh, and instead of $750 million at stake, it’s now $950 million.

The verdict: “Arthur” is still too long, and its plot is still a significant percentage of hogwash. But just like its titular, well-intentioned hedonist scoundrel, “Arthur” is really quite delightful if given the chance. He’s an overgrown child with a soft side and a bruised youth, and Brand provides surprising charm and a lot of laughs in even moronic lines, like Arthur saying all he wants to eat is “a cauldron of tequila and a spoon.” Nick Nolte’s a walking nutcracker as Arthur’s potential father-in-law, and Gerwig and Brand mesh in ways that are both romantic and playful. “Arthur” may be a goof, but its connection is real.

Did you know? Arthur apparently became bored with a pet giraffe because the animal ate its monacle. High standards for entertainment much?

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U

mpais@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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