It’s possibly just because the rest of the ceremony was such a painful, dull slog, but the presentation of Best Foreign Language Film by Helen Mirren and Russell Brand was one of the few lively points of this year’s Oscars, with some suggesting on the night that the duo would make better hosts next year than James Franco and Anne Hathaway, although it could also be argued that the Pixar lamp and the rotting corpse of David Niven would have more chemistry as hosts than Franco & Hathaway.
In true Oscar tradition, the pair were there to subliminally plug their second film together; the imminent remake of the Dudley Moore comedy “Arthur,” in which Brand takes over from the diminuitive British comedian as a billionaire forced to marry against his will, or risk being cut off, and Mirren takes up the role that John Gielgud played in the original, as Arthur’s long-time retainer. Almost like they planned it, a second trailer for the film has now emerged.
The first clip was a real clunker, and there’s no denying that this one’s an improvement — the marketing is no longer trying to hide female lead Greta Gerwig, who looks typically luminous, John Hodgman crops up, which can only be a good thing, and there’s a couple of moments that raise a smile, which is a couple more than in the first trailer. But it’s still not exactly looking very good — Jennifer Garner, as Brand’s would-be-betrothed, seems in full “Invention of Lying” I-am-a-robot-with-no-comic-timing mode, and the extended opening with Evander Holyfield (presumably in some kind of attempt to mimic “The Hangover” success with Mike Tyson) is woefully unfunny, and seems to go on forever.
We’re not writing the film off entirely yet: we enjoyed the script, from Sacha Baron Cohen collaborator Peter Baynham, to a surprising degree (though it may bear little resemblance to finished film; Baynham reportedly wrote new pages while on set during the shoot). And Brand and Mirren have a real warmth to their relationship, although an audience member’s enjoyment of that will obviously depend on their tolerance for the Marmite-like British comedian. We’ll find it out if the film can pull it back when it hits theaters on April 8th; watch the trailer below, or in HD at Apple.