For some reason or another, I’ve become a big fan of the Russell Brand brand of comedy. There’s just something about the way that he carries himself (along with the somewhat peculiar British accent) that lends itself to some great laughs. At the same time, it’s not like I went in expecting an Oscar-worthy performance.
In Arthur (not to be confused with the king who retrieved Excalibur), Russell Brand plays a wealthy playboy and heir to a multi-billion dollar multinational corporation. Not surprisingly, he knows nothing about the business and just goes about wasting the cash. Helen Mirren plays his nanny, trying to keep his exploits as much under control as possible. The humor itself exploits cheap sight gags and over-acting on the part of Brand, but that’s almost the charm of a piece like this.
In the scene above, for instance, Brand’s character is bidding against himself for Abraham Lincoln’s coat and hat. He only does this for his own amusement, throwing away tons of money, only to give the coat and hat to a random passer-by on the street. The story is predictable and Arthur adds nothing to the comedy landscape, but it’s still a mindless diversion that leaves a smile on your face.
March of the Penguins (2005)
Cute beyond words, harsh beyond its years. That’s probably how I would best describe this nature documentary that follows a group of emperor penguins as it marches, single file, to its annual breeding ground. That sounds like such a simple concept, but there’s so much more to it.
In March of the Penguins, we get to see an entire cycle unfold, from the long march to the breeding grounds to the mating rituals to the harsh conditions that they must endure as they protect the fragile eggs. The footage is positively breathtaking and you really start to feel what it would be like to go months without food, huddling together with your fellow penguins for warmth in positively frigid temperatures.
In stark contrast to a toned down documentary like Disney’s Earth, March of the Penguins does much less to shelter you from these harsh realities. We see cracked eggs. We see baby penguins frozen in ice. And I appreciate the presentation of that full story. Life isn’t easy in the Antarctic.
The pacing can be a little slow and the singular nature of the narrative may lose the interest of some, but this film is certainly worth watching for any fan of a good nature documentary.