Is this the end for Russell Brand?

Arthur should have been Russell Brand’s big break, although it may be the beginning of the end of his Hollywood career. The remake of the Dudley Moore classic has received severe reviews in the US and has only managed to recoup $12 million of its $40 Million budget.

He was described by The Hollywood Reporter’s Kirk Honeycutt as going ‘full bore in every scene almost as if the movie isn’t so much about a drunk as an eccentric billionaire who would be loopy even if he only drank lemonade’.

Even harsher was critic Marshall Fine who said: ‘If anything this movie should put a nail in the coffin of Russell Brand’s career as a movie comic because, well, the guy’s just not that funny’.

In the past Brand has always pulled off bit parts, stealing the show in Get Him to the Greek and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. He even voiced the central animated character in Hop, which eclipsed Arthur at the US Box office this week. But his first venture into leading man territory has been a clear flop.

Russell Brand is not the first British comedian to fail the leap across the pond. Ricky Gervais was in a similar position, enjoying bit parts in box office smashes Night at the Museum and Stardust. While both Ghost Town and the painfully unfunny The Invention of Lying failed to draw in audiences or critics. Similarly Simon Pegg also struggled with Run Fat Boy Run and How to Lose Friends and Alienate People both not being the big breaks he had hoped for. Unlike Gervais, Pegg has managed to salvage his career in Hollywood with supporting roles in the Star Trek and Mission Impossible franchises, and his lead role in Sci-fi comedy Paul.

But why do British comedians ultimately fail in Hollywood?

There is no one answer to this, although a clear factor is how these comedians’ acts are softened in order to make them more family friendly. Arthur was a role made for Brand, and playing the alcoholic playboy should have come naturally to the well known lothario. However what could have been a great performance is decidedly average with Brand’s usual theatrical manner toned down. The end result is Brand’s Arthur being little more than a mild mannered idiot.

His next project, Rock of Ages is will see him return to a supporting role. He will be joined by Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti and everyone’s favourite Scientologist, Tom Cruise. It will tell the story the Hollywood Rock scene in the 1980s and is currently pre-production.

With this lined up, hopefully Arthur will merely be a blip on the radar for Brand, instead of a nail in the coffin.

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