Arthur Newman

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Arthur Newman Movie Poster Image
Often-somber drama has language, sex, drinking.
  • R
  • 2013
  • 101 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Most mistakes can be undone; running away doesn't erase them, and sooner or later, they'll catch up with you anyway. So why not get comfortable in your own skin?

Positive Role Models & Representations

Arthur has some major flaws, and it takes him a while to find himself and atone for his mistakes, but at heart, he's a caring soul. And so is Michaela (aka Mike), though she's also seen stealing.

Violence

A man contemplates suicide (viewers don't see anything gory, but it's implied). A man is shown dying after a seizure. A woman is shown screaming in a car.

Sex

A couple is shown in some intimate situations. Viewers don't see any sensitive nudity (a woman is seen in various states of undress but still clad in underwear), but the setups imply various sex positions. A brief scene shows a porn movie playing on TV in the background.

Language

Language is strong but not constant; words include "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and more.

Consumerism

Products/labels seen include Timex, Sabrett, Wells Fargo, Budweiser, and Polaroid.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some scenes show a woman completely inebriated, and, later, drinking and smoking weed with a man.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Arthur Newman is an interesting but flawed film about a man who abandons his old life for a new identity, leaving behind a child. Despite some moments of levity, it's fairly somber, and the subject matter may be a little bleak for young teens and tweens. Still, the movie offers an interesting meditation on regrets and what we can make of them. Expect some scenes showing a couple in intimate poses and various states of undress (though no outright nudity), swearing ("s--t," "f--k," and more), some drinking and drug use (primarily weed), and a character who contemplates suicide.

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What's the story?

Wallace Avery (Colin Firth) and Michaela "Mike" Fitzgerald (Emily Blunt) don't meet cute. After abandoning his former life -- including a son and a girlfriend (Anne Heche) -- in a grim fashion, Wallace meets Mike as she's being arrested, intoxicated, near a motel where he's bunking. Pulled by a compulsion he can't explain, Wallace, aka Arthur Newman, invites her to join him on his way to starting anew in Terre Haute, Indiana, where he hopes a new job as a golf pro awaits. On the road, they uncover secrets about each other -- and themselves -- and must face one essential truth: You can't run away from yourself.

Is it any good?

It's admittedly a sometimes poignant, often interesting, and somewhat poetic movie. But the thing about road movies, and ARTHUR NEWMAN essentially is one, is that the ride has to be worth the aches and pains of being trapped in a vehicle hurtling forward, headed for parts unknown. Firth is almost always reason enough, but even he can't escape the monotony that dismantles this film.

It begins promisingly enough, with the setup unspooling in an efficient and compelling fashion. But Arthur Newman loses its way soon after, wasting the strong cast. The story is a gold mine of possibilities, but Arthur Newman takes too many detours, all leading to a place that isn't so new after all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Arthur Newman's messages. What do you think the intended takeaway is? How does the movie want viewers to feel at the end?

  • Discuss the characters and their choices. Are they believable/understandable? What do the characters learn?

  • How does the movie portray drinking, drug use, and sexuality?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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