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Parents' Guide to

Arthur (1981)

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Sweet-spirited '80s comedy with lots of drinking.

Movie PG 1981 97 minutes
Arthur (1981) Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 1 parent review

age 13+

Only reason it scores this high is because of Gielgud's performance

This was released 39 years ago and it shows. The only reason I gave it two stars is because of Sir John Gielgud. His dryness, his delivery, the gravel in his voice, he is a delight every time he is on screen and his costars know it and give him the room to be. The film hit the cultural context of 1981 Reagonomics at just the right time. Where we wanted to believe that being rich wasn't everything, but we really wanted to be rich anyway. Where we wanted to reject large sums of money but end up having it all anyway. Where we believed that true love even when you're poor is better than being rich and if you choose true love you'll get rich anyway, and you deserve it. Moore's character is an alcoholic and is obnoxious and noxious and immature and that is why he deserves Minnelli's character? It makes rom-com sense, but we no longer buy this brand of cereal. Gielgud's sharpness and delivery however is what makes this film any kinds of worthwhile.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (8 ):

ARTHUR was a crowd-pleasing "sleeper" in its day, with a witty screwball-comedy mien that hearkened back to golden-age screen comedies of yesteryear. (Though swearing and very light sex is something past censors wouldn't have permitted.) It also offers the Hollywood-wish-fullfillment of a poor little rich girl/guy who just needs someone to love him for who he is, not his millions. Kid viewers can especially relate to Arthur's giddy immaturity, his toys, and his slightly wistful need to make everyone laugh (so they'll like him).

It's the boozing part that's iffy material. Dudley Moore's character isn't sloshed continually -- it just feels that way. Think Popeye with his spinach, when Arthur grabs a bottle to get giggly and uninhibited enough to confront stuffy relatives and peers. Moreover, Arthur's one of the most "enabled" alcoholics ever, with an entourage and two attractive, non-gold-digging females vying to pamper him. In a way this flick is a shallow male fantasy, but, just like Hobson the sarcastic butler, viewers learn to love Arthur anyway for his innate decency and harmlessness. If only all drinkers were like that.

Movie Details

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