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“Arthur” Remake May Have Solid Cast but What About the Theme Song?

“Arthur” Remake May Have Solid Cast but What About the Theme Song? (photo)

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One of the funniest films of the early 80’s, Dudley Moore’s “Arthur,” is also one of it’s most endearing. It made the sex thimble, Dudley Moore an enormous star soon after the success of “10,” and won the indispensable John Gielgud an Oscar for his performance as Hobson — who will forever be the archetypal kind, but curmudgeonly butler. The film also gave us the mega-hit theme song (embedded below) ”Arthur’s Theme Best That You Can Do,” from Christopher Cross and Burt Bacharach.

Now and then a film comes along with a theme song so perfect, that in some magic of image and sound, they become inseparable. It’s a rare event and one that I doubt can be replicated in this remake that has comedian Russell Brand trying to fill Dudley Moore’s shoes — granted Dudley Moore was a tiny man, but this will be no easy task for Brand — Moore was charming and tremendously hilarious in the role of Arthur. If it’s been a while for you, the film is about a drunken, New york playboy, as worthless as he is filthy rich. He leads a boozy, fairy-tale life of excess, but ultimately redeems himself by choosing love over money.

A crucial change to director Jason Winer’s remake is the casting of Helen Mirren in the role of Hobson, turning the supporting role from a male to a female confidant, butler to nanny. It’s an interesting choice and may be one reason for fans of the original film to see this, but it risks losing the original film’s buddy dynamic. I’m sure a relationship of equal or greater substance can be crafted with a woman in the role but the writers have their work cut out for them. I guess since they aren’t taxing themselves writing an original film they may have inspiration to spare.

The writers too are either a point of concern or reassurance depending on your perspective. The first draft was written by “Borat” writer Peter Baynham, then as the NY Times reported, it went to another writer for polishing, then to seven more writers — all from ABC’s “Modern Family” which Winer helmed for 13 episodes. But wait, then the script went back to Baynham “who arrives on the set every day ready to rewrite.”

I’m told Nick Nolte, who plays the father of the heiress Arthur is arranged to be married to, sweat profusely on the set. Hopefully it wasn’t over the script, which you’d think after nine writers having a go at it would be gold… or totally incoherent.

If there is some consistency it’s rooted in what’s carried over from the original, the basic story is largely unchanged, just updated for 2011. Helen Mirren noted that there is an original producer and sound guy too, “so there’s a lot of respect, hopefully, being made to the original film,” she said [Hollywood Outbreak].

Okay, the sound guy, but what of the music and that theme song? A little Burt Bacharach could go a long way to smooth over the work of nine different writers. And no one is smoother than the God of yacht rock, Christopher Cross.

In that same Times piece I mentioned, there is a comment from Larry Brezner, one of the producers from the original “Arthur” about a late change in the story, which originally ended with Arthur completely giving up his fortune for love. Audience tests showed it fared poorly — they wanted Arthur to get the money in the end too, even if that muddled the premise. So “The idea,” Mr. Brezner said, “was: give Arthur the money, bring up the music loud and get the audience the hell out of the theater happy, before they have time to think about it.”

Yes, bring the music up loud, good plan. But who’s music will the remake make use of? I’m not sure I want to know who the “updated” Christopher Cross is. “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” is now an easy listening staple, an integral part of any yacht rock mix along with “What a Fool Believes,” “Rosanna” and of course, “Sailing.” It won both the Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Original Song. It’s going to be hard to forget it while watching the remake if it’s absent, or worse, if it’s covered.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.