Thirty years ago, Dudley Moore introduced us to Arthur, a lovable but drunken millionaire playboy about to married to a wealthy heiress he did not love. “I race cars, play tennis, and fondle women,” he said, “but I have weekends off, and I am my own boss.”
The movie, Arthur, was a giant hit, coming in fourth in the year’s box office, earning four Oscar nods, winning two and spawning the number one hit Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do). It’s available on DVD and holds up very well, which is why it is a bit baffling that a remake of the same name is hitting theatres this weekend starring Russell Brand.
Remakes, of course, are nothing new. Hollywood has been recycling ideas since the beginning. For example, Cecil B. DeMille remade his own 1915 film The Golden Chance as Forbidden Fruit just six years later. The difference is that back then there was no portable archive of movies available on Blu-ray or streaming video. Take a good story, repackage it and hopefully do well at the box office. Later, in the pre-home video years, remakes were a way to breathe some life into older movies.
But times have changed. Now, via Netflix, On-Demand and Blu-ray, it’s easier and cheaper than ever to seek out and see movies like the original Arthur. So what’s the point of the remake? Well, for one thing, it’s a perfect role for the impish Russell Brand and, for another, it’s always great to see his co-star, Helen Mirren, on screen. And who knows? Maybe it’s better than the original. It wouldn’t be the first time.
With so many remakes — past, present and future — perhaps philosopher Raoul Vaneigem was right when he said, “Our task is not to rediscover nature but to remake it.”
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