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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Positive 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.
Violence & Scariness
One threatened stabbing. Arthur gets beaten up.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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.
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"Dick," the s-word, "screw," "hell," "Goddamn it," "bastard," "asshole."
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Products & Purchases
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.
Drinking, Drugs & 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.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.