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Arthur Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 13+

Sweet-spirited comedy -- with too many spirits.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this popular '80s comedy turns time and again to comical drinking and drunkenness. Though some of it is played for pathos and sadness, the slurred-speech joviality and teetering gait is usually upbeat and funny. The title character, a multi-millionaire playboy, picks up prostitutes and is shown the next morning in bed with one (who speaks about incest in her history). There is some light swearing that doesn't go beyond the "s" word.

  • Families can talk about the choices Arthur makes. Do you really think he's going to sober up and be a better person in the end? A more sentimental (and less successful) sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, attempted sincerely to address that question.
  • Ask kids what they think their lives would be like if they were raised like Arthur, in a mega-rich environment without responsibilities. What messages does this film send about immense wealth?
  • Does this film go too far in making drunkenness look positive and consequence-free?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Ultimate message is about growing up -- ironically, because Arthur is adult, but his money (and drinking) let him play and act more like a lad all his life. Side message seems to be that the working classes are nicer than the rich, but once in a while an eccentric like Arthur (and, to a lesser extent, Hobson) can cross over.

  • rolemodels true2

    Role models: Butler Hobson is a caring father figure who isn't afraid to tell Arthur exactly what he thinks of his lifestyle and behavior, while somehow still remaining kind. Oft-drunken Arthur is "heroic" in that he would sacrifice his fortune for love -- although we find out it's no a great risk after all. Wealthy are portrayed as practically a different species, ruthless and predatory. Arthur's dad says the wealthy are all "criminals." The villain, a non-drinker, is a threatening hunter and killer (as though those go hand-in-hand). Working-class Linda shoplifts. One character of color is a dignified chauffeur.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: One threatened stabbing. Arthur gets beaten up.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Arthur drunkenly flirts with a couple of prostitutes and is shown the next day, non-explicitly naked, waking up in bed with one (she mentions that her father's raping her determined her path in life). Arthur jokes about sexually-transmitted diseases. His classy aunt speaks of Arthur's "erection" and promiscuity.

  • language false2

    Language: "Dick," the s-word, "screw," "hell," "Goddamn it," "bastard," "asshole."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Mention of the "Simonizing" process, the NYC clothing store Bergdorf-Goodman, emblems of credit-card companies and florists. Mention of the video-game then-sensation Space Invaders.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Alcohol drinking by Arthur is regular and intense. When he's not drunk he's often drinking in order to get drunk or in the process of ordering more drinks (doubles preferably). Some other characters also drink -- a lot. Linda smokes cigarettes.