the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Let’s Remake Arthur Again

If I know my movie-buff friend, Danny, he has already complained about the remake of the perfectly fine 1981 comedy, Arthur, one of the most popular films from that decade.  The story, about a happy drunk who stands to lose a wealthy inheritance when he falls for the wrong woman, originally starred Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli, and John Gielgud.

The 2011 remake of Arthur stars Russell Brand, Jennifer Garner, and Helen Mirren.  I know it’s crazy, but it’s true.

Danny is what film critics call a “purist.”  He clearly doesn’t understand that time moves on, and the original Arthur is now 30 years old!  I’m sure his own teenage daughter is as unfamiliar with the late Dudley Moore as he is with forgotten silent film star Francis Lederer.  A new generation deserves a new Arthur.

And what is so wrong with Hollywood remaking Arthur 1981 into Arthur 2011?  Would we want Hamlet to only be performed once at Stratford-upon-Avon during the time of Shakespeare, never to be appreciated again by future generations?  There have been countless interpretations of Hamlet.  Just look at this list of well-known actors who have played Hamlet through the years —

Mel Gibson, David Tennant, Richard Burton, Kenneth Branagh, Sir Laurence Olivier, Richard Burbage, Thomas Betterton, Lewis Hallam. Jr., Edwin Booth (John Wilkes Booth’s brother), Asta Nielsen, Ethan Hawke, Kevin Kline, Sir Henry Irving, John Philip Kemble, Sir Ian McKellen, Edmund Kean, Sir John Gielgud, Sarah Bernhardt, Sir Derek Jacobi, Johnston Forbes-Robertson, Campbell Scott, William Charles Macready, Richard Chamberlain, Christopher Plummer, Nicol Williamson, John Barrymore, David Garrick

Russell Brand is not re-doing Arthur.  He is recreating the brilliant character developed by the Oscar-nominated writer/director Steve Gordon, who sadly passed away immediately after the release of the film.

Why should Hollywood waste time and energy searching for new ideas, when it can stick with the classics, such as Arthur?

In fact, Hollywood shouldn’t just stop with a Dudley Moore “Arthur” and a Russell Brand “Arthur.”  There should be a black “Arthur.”  An Asian “Arthur.”  An “Arthur” all in Spanish.  A “gay” Arthur.  An “Arthur” where the roles are reversed and Arthur is a woman.  A transexual “Arthur.”  A Pixar animated “Arthur” — in 3D Imax — where “Arthur” is a irresponsible racoon who is a glutton with his acorns rather than am alcoholic, in order to keep it G-rated.  I think there should be a new big budget “Arthur” produced EVERY 30 years.  Ten year old Raymond Ochoa of the children’s TV show “Drake and Josh” will be perfect in thirty years time as the womanizing drunk in the new new Arthur, released in 2041.

Hopefully, in thirty years, science will have perfected a time machine, so Hollywood studios, still hoping to recreate the success of the first “Arthur,” will go back in time to 1951, creating an “Arthur” appropriate for that era, starring Orson Welles, Deborah Kerr, and Spencer Tracy.

Why should Hollywood executives be caught between the moon and New York City every time they need to produce a movie?  I applaud the creativity of Hollywood, with their unique ability to be Green and recycle ideas as easily as Ed Begley Jr. does with his paper towels.  In the next few years, I hope to see “Arthur” remade as many times as humanly possible!


  1. Misty

    Ethan Hawke played Hamlet? Huh, learn something new everyday.

    • Petra

      Yeah, strange – isn’t it? I thought he rather used to play in comedies.

  2. Megan

    Not sure how I feel about this. I loved the original, but if this is well-done and not just a rehash of the first one it could be OK.

    • Neil

      If you see the original now, it’s not that great either but not a big fan of re-makes, even when they are good ones, like True Grit. Just a personal grouchy thing. It is not rational. I have enjoyed remakes of old movies myself. Maybe it makes me feel old when I know original.

  3. Vicki

    I feel the same way. In fact, I’m so pro-remake that I’m currently working on my own version of The Karate Kid, using an actual goat.

  4. Kara

    I love Russell Brand and I’m sure he’ll make a great Arthur. But Mel Gibson as Hamlet? That’s just wrong.

    • Neil

      I have to say, Mel Gibson was one of my favorites until we found out he was nuts. Big disappointment.

      • Misty

        I liked him as Hamlet too. But yeah, now he’s nuts.

  5. Memoirs of a Single Dad

    My son and I started watching movies from the 80’s and 90’s last summer. I felt like it was part of some indoctrination that he should go through. We watched the Ghost Buster series, Labyrinth, Flight of the Navigator, Goonies, etc.

    I say don’t mess with the classics!

    • Niel dickinson

      Absolutely right, would there be a re-painting of the Mona Lisa? or re-sculpting of Michaelangelo’s David?
      Of course people still pay to see works of art that are hundreds of years old, and still appreciate the efforts that went into them.
      Classics should not be messed with, it’s not just a personal grouch that I have, it’s universal.
      My kids love Ghostbusters, Labyrinth, Flight of the Navigator, Goonies, (a fav), in fact, most movies that were made throughout the 80s that still deliver quality entertainment.
      Why do we need Arthur 2011? What’s wrong with the original?
      Dudley Moore is (not was), outstanding as Arthur Bach, not to mention a powerful Liza Minelli, John Gielgud etc….and still makes me laugh, so this lazy Hollywood remake, like most of them, is another sad tug on the wallets of a new generation of bubblegum popping teens.

  6. Danny

    Ha! Just to prove you wrong, although I did scream when I heard they were remaking “Arthur,” I never liked the original (I’ve always hated “funny” depictions of drunks) even with Gielgud and Ms. Minnelli (I don’t think I’ve ever laughed at a single Dudley Moore moment on film, may he rest in peace). As far as the new one, which I would only watch on an airplane if my Kindle battery went dead, I love the idea of Helen Mirren replacing Gielgud and while Russell Brand gives me the creeps, I thought his exchange with Mirren was one of the only tolerable moments of this year’s Oscars. But, of course, I do agree that remakes like this do beg the age-old question: “WHYYYYY?” Except for “Mildred Pierce.” Kendall and I got HBO just so we could watch this mini-series and we’re LOVING it. As far as I’m concerned, Kate Winslet can remake any Hollywood classic she likes, except her own stupid “Titanic” which I could never sit through again.
    P.S. Me unfamiliar with Francis Lederer? How dare you! “Confessions of a Nazi Spy” is one of my favorite films!

    • Neil

      Darn. I thought I stumped you! The remake of True Grit was good, but I still don’t like that they made it.

  7. subWOW

    You got me with this post. Normally I am able to tell whether you are being sarcastic or not. This one sounds so sincere to the fault of A Modest Proposal that I am not quite sure whether this was done tongue-in-cheek. I looked at the spinning top… did it waiver towards the end??…

    One moment I was persuaded by the argument as presented by the words themselves, the next moment I sensed sarcasm and could see the ridiculousness in this.

    I have made up my mind though a long time ago: I always dislike Dudley Moore. No reason. Just don’t like the way he looked. Sorry. Can’t bring myself to watch any more with him in it. Gives me the creeps.

  8. Stasha

    Love how actors sober up to be able to play drunks. Suppose all the money spend on addictions is tax deductible in Hollywood, filled under research.

  9. Jen

    Liza Minelli was woefully miscast in the original.

  10. Leo

    No please!! We dont need that film again

  11. Irish Gumbo

    You forgot an undead version of Arthur, with ZOMBIES! Maybe even zombies with lasers on their heads!

  12. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    I can barely remember the original, but I would like to see the new version, maybe as a movie date with my daughter. The interview with the actors on Yahoo Movies is what piqued my interest.

  13. Amanda

    Arthur is a remake????? I had no idea! I’m not that young, but I spent the 80’s watching really bad kung fu movies with my mother, aka controller of the remote, because she liked Jean Claude Van Damme, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and that guy with the ponytail. But Kurt Russell in “Big Trouble in Little China” was fantastic.

  14. Jack

    I know it’s crazy, but it’s true.

    Christopher Cross demands royalties for quoting his song lyrics in your post.

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