Archive for April, 2011

can I get caught between the moon and New York City instead?

Posted in film remakes, Hollywood dream factory on April 26, 2011 by leaflens

But no, I had to watch a remake of a film made 30 years ago, back when I was 8. Eight! Like eight years old eight, you know. I mean, if people need to age and grow, so do movies. Especially remakes.

Jeezus where do I begin?

ARTHUR (2011)

s. from the 1981 film-story by Steve Gordon

c. Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner and that Greta cutey girl

Pitch: Rich brat and drunkard British dude living in New York City gets conflicted when threatened with disinheritance if he doesn’t marry an alpha female businesswoman in the wake of waking up to the real world because of falling in love with an “ordinary woman” chorva.

Catch: Who died and appointed this Brand guy as funny? He should die again.

If you’re going to update a film, Hollywood, please update it in style. The 1981 version of ARTHUR starred actors with class. Hello Dudley Moore as Arthur? Sir John Gielgud as Hobson the “nanny” (or maybe man-ny in this case) and the, the Liza Minelli as the love interest. Yes, life was a cabaret in that film, man. And hands down, Dudley Moore is funny! Like one-liners galore funny, in the same thread and tradition of how Robin Williams is just a walking one-liner funny guy. Hm, when did comedy go out of style?

Oh yes, maybe this month. Like 2011.

Dudley Moore was better in playing a drunkard, a spoiled rich playboy, and a British dude.

Fine, granted that this remake has the Helen Mirren in it and a useless Jennifer Garner who could actually be better given a better role. But casting doesn’t seem to be the major problem of this film; it’s the story — the very outdated one.

Sure, I know there are still rich billionaires loitering around the world, specifically New York and oh let’s include Manila as well, who live off of their family’s riches by being playboys, buying expensive things, living the nightlife and loving no one in particular. But there has to be some kind of logic to it (or at least something deeper, more dramatic a premise) if these playboys will get disinherited. Merely saying that they cannot live the high life without the money doesn’t cut it anymore. There should be another motivation that will raise the stakes for such a storyline to take off. Oh I don’t know, like maybe let them discover that they are gay, for instance? Now that’s another story, di ba? Or give them more realistic conflicts like fathering dozens of children? Or they have to take over the family business against their wishes? I don’t know; I’m just pitching ideas here. But you get the drift — fluff up the conflicts!

And let’s face it; if these uber-rich bachelors of today are indeed bachelors of today, then they will also be into the latest technological gadgets like computers, video games (!!!) and other luxurious eccentricities, not merely collecting movie cars like the Batmobile or the time-traveling Delorean (which I’d like to actually own myself but I digress). But the playboy bachelor in this remake didn’t even know how to use a computer. Dude, they teach that in grade school and high school, right? And yes, we’re in 2011, folks. By now, I would have figured that he has wifi-powered his high-tech pad with 24/7 porn or something. You know, rich dude eccentricities. But no, all he has is a magnetic floating bed (which is cool BTW in fairness, I want this at home!) and a rotating lighted replica of the solar system (okay I want this at home, too!) on his ceiling. No computers. No technological extravagance like a huge plasma TV connected to some latest state-of-the-art gaming console. But he has a mini-movie theater inside his pad. And it’s grossly decorated with gold plants and stuff. Oh man, a disaster of production design that didn’t know how to characterize a character as well. That, or the art dept/director/writer are so hung up on nostalgia that they forgot to develop this film to fit the 21st century.

So what we get in this film remake is a flimsy excuse to show New York City scenery at its finest. If only for that, I prevented myself from dozing off from watching ridiculous plotline after ridiculous plotline. In my mind, I was like “Oooh hey I walked down that block/area (near Grand Central/Empire State bldg.) last year!” or “Oooh wow I was inside that building (MoMA) last year!” Yeah I re-lived my own NY nostalgia with this film, a good survival tactic for badly scripted movies.

with my friend A as we got caught between people and cars on the way to Times Square / March 2010 photo by x

So what’s essentially bad with the plotlines? The fact that it reeks of uncalled for patriarchal cliches, that’s what. With lines like “She will take care of you, Arthur” or something to that effect, it’s like the women in this film are born to take care and/or serve this prick lang. Bleh. This film had actually a lot of good potential to explore such heterosexual interplays in this day and age but sadly, it had to fall back to tired devices that don’t really excite story consumers anymore. Yeah in short, I don’t buy it!

I admire and find believable the original plot since the Arthur character had a father who was trying to disinherit him and he had a butler for a sidekick much like Bruce Wayne had Alfred. All patriarchal systems in check, and highly justified for the story it was trying to tell. Plus there’s a matriarch figure in the British family, and that’s a given because hey, they’re British? Hm. But remake that into the Arthur 2.0 with not a father but an alpha female mother figure who doesn’t exchange warm hugs but warm handshakes with her son (who has a change of heart towards the end, an uncalled for one), and then replace the butler sidekick with an aging British nanny (update this; even Prince William had a Filipino nanny. Just saying.), and you get an emasculated playboy who isn’t truly cute and lovable at all, but who actually acts like an idiot lang. Unlike the original Arthur who answers, when asked what is his job, he comically answers “I play tennis” and other lewd things you’d expect from such a character, the Arthur 2.0 just doesn’t do anything or give witty retorts. And he’s just characterized as an overgrown kid. Not bad if it’s created and played well but it falls flat here, and he just acts like an idiot lang. For instance, when given a job in a candy store, he can’t even focus when being given directions but wants to badly wear the candy mascot costume and thinks that’s the coolest job ever.  Geez, 21st century idiot at its finest. Truly unbelievable a character.

Of course he gets thrust pa with a love life dilemma of being between an alpha female in an arranged marriage (I mean come on! Who marries for business deals these days? If you’re using this plotline, please refer to the brilliantly written film SABRINA for pointers, both the original and the remake!) and a plain Jane of a girl who actually rides subways and eats pretzels in New York. Geez.

And if my blog post title is lost on you young ‘uns, it’s a reference to the nice theme song of the original movie sung by Christopher Cross, entitled “Arthur’s Theme.” Listen here. I miss songs like that; romantic in nature but not kill-me-sappy, unlike pop songs of today. Plus there are great lines pa. Yes, they had me at getting caught between the moon (an image I adore and respect) and New York City (a place I miss right now). Sankapa! But okay, they play a rocked up done-for-the-OST version of this song at the end. It still doesn’t cut it.

Hmp o siya that’s about it. Will just wait for better films next time. And better remakes.

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