Arthur opens with multimillionaire playboy Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) and his chauffeur Bitterman (Luis Guzman) dressing up as Batman and Robin to attend a formal dinner party hosted by Arthur’s mother Vivienne (Geraldine James). An accident on the way results in Arthur being arrested. Photos of the arrest appear on every iPhone at his mother’s party. To clean up her son’s image, Vivienne gives Arthur an ultimatum. He must either marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner), a ruthless businesswoman who will stop at nothing to marry Arthur, or be disinherited.
Unable to face the prospect of being poor, Arthur agrees to marry Susan, but then he meets unlicensed tour operator Naomi (Greta Gerwiz). Naomi’s easygoing, quirky personality instantly captures Arthur’s heart. Even Arthur’s long-suffering nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren), warms to Naomi’s charms. Arthur is now torn between being rich, loveless and unhappy if he marries Susan, or poor and happy if he marries Naomi. So he tries desperately to keep both relationships going.
Things change dramatically when Hobson becomes terminally ill, and Arthur puts his own life on hold to care for her.
Playboy lifestyles; alcoholism; terminal illness
This movie has some violence and accidental harm. For example:
- While boxing, Arthur punches his opponent in the face and then apologises. Hobson orders Arthur out of the boxing ring. Arthur says, ‘Make me’. Hobson puts on a pair of boxing gloves and punches Arthur in the face, knocking him to the ground.
- Arthur plays with a nail gun, firing nails into a plastic curtain. A man walks out from behind the curtain with nails sticking out of his chest and arm.
- Susan’s father tells Arthur to put his face near the spinning blade of a tablesaw. He forces Arthur’s face towards the blade. He tells him to stick out his tongue because the blade’s moisture sensor will shut down the saw. Arthur struggles as his face is pushed closer to the saw, which shuts down just in time.
- Susan threatens Arthur, telling him that her father will cut off his balls if he crosses her.
- Susan punches Arthur in the face, knocking Arthur backwards. Susan’s father grabs Arthur and pins Arthur’s arm behind his back. He tells Susan to punch Arthur again. Later we see Arthur with dried blood on his lip and a reddish bruise on his chin.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example, Hobson lies in a bed connected to a heart monitor. She falls asleep. The following morning she is dead, and the heart monitor is flatlining. Arthur shouts out for a nurse, who confirms that Hobson has no pulse.
Children in this age group could also be disturbed by the idea of terminal illness and Hobson’s death.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
Arthur has frequent sexual references and innuendoes. For example:
- Arthur refers to someone as a ‘lesbian Simon and Garfunkle’.
- While Arthur is in the bath, Hobson instructs him to wash his ‘winky’ because he has slept with a woman and doesn’t know whether she had any sexually transmitted diseases.
- Arthur jokingly tells his mother that he didn’t know that two girls in a photo with him were under 18 or that they were really men. He says he found out the hard way.
- Arthur talks about his testicles being given a hard time and asks when they’ll be given a rest.
- Hobson jokes that if Arthur kept Naomi as a mistress, he’d save money on prostitutes.
- After Arthur kisses a girl on the lips, someone says, ‘She’s probably pregnant now’.
- Hobson tells a story of how Arthur once slept with three European princesses at the same time. She wonders what sexually transmitted disease he might have picked up.
- While standing at the altar at his own wedding, Arthur tells his bride-to-be and the crowd that he has slept with the three bridesmaids.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Arthur contains frequent depiction of alcohol use and abuse, drunk behaviour and drug references. For example:
- Arthur drinks to excess throughout the movie.
- Hobson tells a story of how Arthur was having sex with three women at once. He was so drunk that he threw up on two of the women while he weed on the third. He couldn’t remember any of this the next morning.
- Susan behaves in a drunk way. When Arthur asks her about her behaviour, she admits to having drunk two bottles of wine.
- A man talks about buying a crack den and turning it into a condo. A second man says he did the reverse.
- To tackle his alcoholism, Arthur goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. He manages to last only a few minutes. At a second AA meeting, Arthur announces that he’s an alcoholic and hasn’t had a drink for six months.
- A group of children talk about drugs including crack, coke and meth.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Hobson walks into Arthur’s room and starts picking up pieces of women’s clothing while partially dressed women sleep on the floor. One young woman wakes up, picks up some clothing and hurries out of the room. There’s a rear view of a young woman wearing a shirt and straddling Arthur, who is lying in his bed. She climbs off Arthur and sits beside him. Hobson tells the woman not to let Arthur at her breast. She says she had to put Tabasco sauce on her own nipples to get Arthur off.
- Several times the movie shows a painted portrait of Arthur standing next to Susan, who is on her hands and knees and wearing brief sexy clothing.
- Susan enters Arthur’s apartment wearing a trench coat. She opens the coat to show a black corset and high boots. She then tries to seduce him. She kisses him, crawls after him, undoes his shirt and pulls his pants down.
- While standing in church after announcing that he can’t marry his intended bride, Arthur strips off his own clothes until he is naked except for his underwear. Then he walks out into the street where people look at him.
- Arthur and Naomi lie side by side on a bed, fully clothed. Naomi kisses Arthur on the cheek and Arthur passionately kisses her back.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: various alcohol brands, Sony products.
This movie has some coarse language and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Arthur is touching at times and has its funny moments, but doesn’t live up to the 1980s classic of the same name. It relies much more on sexual innuendo for humour. It targets an adolescent and adult audience.
The main messages from this movie are that money won’t make you happy or buy you love. True love is worth more than any amount of money.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with older children include self-sacrifice and compassion as demonstrated by Hobson (and to some extent, also by Arthur). You might want to talk about how the movie presents Arthur’s alcohol abuse. Does it glamorise his alcoholism?