Capsule reviews: ‘Arthur,’ ‘Your Highness,’ ‘Soul Surfer’

“Arthur” — Another inferior, unnecessary remake, Russell Brand’s comedy at least is benign fluff that should please younger audiences unfamiliar with the 1981 comedy, even if purists who adore the original may hate this version. The movie is respectful of and faithful to Dudley Moore’s original — maybe too much so. The filmmakers tweak things to modernize the story and fit the persona of drunken, debauched, billionaire man-child onto Brand (not surprisingly, it’s no stretch for the British comic with the party-boy past). Yet the alterations are mostly cosmetic, including the big one, changing the sex of Arthur’s stern but loving guardian Hobson from a man (John Gielgud as Moore’s butler in the original) to a woman (Helen Mirren as Brand’s nanny). First-time director Jason Winer (TV’s “Modern Family”) stuffs this version with too many cute, cloying moments as Brand’s Arthur grows up while finding true love with a penniless tour guide (Greta Gerwig) and avoiding an arranged marriage with a corporate-climbing executive (Jennifer Garner). Considering the crudeness of many remakes, this could have turned out much worse. PG-13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references. 110 minutes. Two stars out of four. — David Germain, AP Movie Writer

“Soul Surfer” — Watching the feature-film version of Bethany Hamilton’s comeback after a shark attack makes you long for a vivid documentary on the subject instead. Hamilton’s tale is, of course, inspiring. In 2003, when she was just 13 years old, she lost her left arm to a 14-foot tiger shark while surfing near her Hawaiian home. An up-and-comer in the sport, she wanted to get back on her board as soon as possible. A month later, she was in the water again. Now, at 21, she continues to compete professionally. “Soul Surfer” takes that story of complex emotions, determination and faith and turns it into overly simplistic mush. Director and co-writer Sean McNamara’s film is an uncomfortable combination of feel-good platitudes, two-dimensional characters, cheesy special effects and generically idyllic scenery. AnnaSophia Robb, who stars as Hamilton, cuts through some of the gooey tedium with a naturally athletic presence and no-nonsense attitude. But “Soul Surfer” consistently tries to make her transformation as easily digestible as possible. This is especially true when it comes to Hamilton’s religious beliefs. Dennis Quaid and a horribly miscast Helen Hunt play her parents. PG for an intense accident sequence and some thematic material. 106 minutes. One and a half stars out of four. — Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

“Your Highness” — The knights-errant — strong emphasize on the errant — behind this adventure comedy spend more time wallowing in medieval filth than weaving clever laughs and engaging action. Reuniting key players from “Pineapple Express” — James Franco, Danny McBride, director David Gordon Green — the movie plays like a Middle Ages role-playing fantasy dreamed up by the giggly stoners of that earlier comedy. Co-writer McBride and his collaborators apparently set out on a quest to ram as much coarse language and as many adolescent sexual gags into a movie as possible, maybe to cover the fact that the movie doesn’t contain much else. He and Franco play sibling princes who team with a mysterious warrior (Natalie Portman) to rescue a damsel (Zooey Deschanel) from an evil wizard. Crassness overwhelms the movie, the vulgar language losing all force by incessant repetition, deadening the lingo so that even the occasional witty wisecracks aren’t funny. R for strong crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity, violence and some drug use. 102 minutes. Two stars out of four. — David Germain, AP Movie Writer

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