The original “Arthur” won two Oscars in 1981: one for its song “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” and the other for John Gielgud’s role as the hilariously crusty butler to a billionaire playboy.
Helen Mirren Russell Brand Arthur newsDudley Moore earned an Oscar nomination as the mischievous tycoon, but there’s no way his replacement, Russell Brand, could ever get such respect in the industry for a modern reboot. He’s been too much of a real hooligan without much cred yet as an actor. But it’s tempting to think that his new comic sidekick might sneak in: Helen Mirren.
Just because Mirren won the Oscar for lead actress in 2006 for “The Queen” doesn’t automatically disqualify her for consideration in the supporting slot. Ingrid Bergman won in supporting (“Murder on the Orient Express,” 1974) after prevailing twice in lead (“Gaslight” in 1944, “Anastasia” in 1956).
And just because the role of Hobson won in the past doesn’t disqualify the role from triumphing again. Marlon Brando (“The Godfather,” 1972) and Robert De Niro (“The Godfather, Part II,” 1974) both won chunks of academy gold for portraying Vito Corleone. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that Mirren portrays the same role as Gielgud, though. Gielgud played a butler. The character Hobson retains the same name in the remake, but Mirren is now the playboy’s nanny.
But none of that matters, considering the film’s negative reviews. The new “Arthur” scores only 38 at Metacritic. Below are snippets of a few reviews regarding Mirren’s performance.
ROGER EBERT, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: “Helen Mirren has the presence and authority of John Gielgud, but not the same aloof dignity. Gielgud’s Hobson was a man so reserved, you sometimes wanted to knock and see if anyone answered. Then again, they’ve made Hobson into a nanny still loyal from Arthur’s childhood, so she should be expected to love him in a more tender way.”
BETSY SHARKEY, LOS ANGELES TIMES: “Mirren, that grande dame of cinema, just seems tired. And who could blame her? She’s in the midst of this disaster, literally and figuratively dying right in front of us.”
CLAUDIA PUIG, USA TODAY: “His nanny, Hobson (Mirren), is around to make sardonic quips. While Mirren has some dryly witty lines, she’s a tad too kindly to pull off the acerbic dismissals that Gielgud did, making Arthur’s revised saga sloshily sentimental.”