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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Sham Wedding Plan

Arthur on IMDb

Plot Overview

cop writing ticketkid with hand puppet care bearchauffeurspud manNew York based Bach World­wide's heredi­tary mogul, a frugal tee­totaler, died at age 44 leaving an heir Arthur at three without a male role model. Mother­hood was not the forte of his business-minded mother Vivienne (Geraldine James) so, “My mom subcontracted that job to … my nanny Hobson [Helen Mirren], my best friend in the whole world.” At age 30 he has no male friends, just his factotum Bitterman (Luis Guzman) and sparring partner Evander (Holyfield) whose different stations in life preclude familiarity. Without a model of a workaday grind, he drinks heavily, lives extravagantly, and works vapidly as the quint­essential couch potato modeling riding boots. His play­ful­ness leads to the grand gesture, which leads to spectacle and public embarrassment of mom and company.

business womanloverscandy canesWhen potential investors demur for not seeing the company settled in good hands, Vivienne issues an ultimatum to Arthur: to avoid being cut off he must marry her assistant Susan (Jennifer Garner) daughter of a self-made construction contractor from Pitts­burgh. They had dated earlier but he'd broken up with her. He doesn't like her much, but she sees his last name as a ticket to respect­ability. While forcibly engaged to Susan, he meets a “nobody from Queens,” unlicensed tour guide Naomi Quinn (Greta Gerwig) and they hit it off. Can he man up and seize control of his own life or not? One possible path is along the lines of a different family member in a George Cable novel:

“Papa's life was dramatic. It was so, yet not in the manner … of grandpère's life, you understand?”

“You mean it was not melodramatic?”

“Ah, the word I wanted! Mr. Chester, when we get over being children, those of us who do, why do we try so hard to live without melodrama?”

“Ah, mademoiselle, you know well enough. You know that's what melo­drama does, itself? What is it, in essence, but a struggle to rise out of itself into a higher drama, of the spirit—?”

“A divine comedy! Yes. Well, that is what my father's life seems to me.”

“In the refined life,” Arthur said musingly.

“Yes! And he was refined, yet never weak. ‘Strength,’ he said, ‘valor, truth, they are the foundations; better be dead than with­out them.’ Yet one can have them, in crude form, and still be better dead. The noble, the humane, the chaste, the beautiful, 'tis with them we build the super­structure, the temple, of life—Mr. Chester, if you knew French, I could tell you that better.” (171–2)


It's up for grabs how this romantic comedy will turn out, but that's nothing new. (Prov. 30:18-19) “There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.” The writer of this proverb juxtaposed three hard-to-track move­ments with romantic intrigues: a soaring eagle, a slithering snake, and a tossed-about ship.

“Arthur” employs images from the same three venues to prepare the viewer for its love machinations. “The way of an eagle in the air” corresponds to a bedroom scene in which feisty Susan is pursuing a reluctant Arthur, onto the floor, then under the bed where she levitates and gets stuck to its under­side on account of, “Your clothes are made of metal and my bed is made of magnets.” He doesn't know how to operate the remote to turn it off. It could portend they end up stuck together (“I'm trapped by the money.”)

right hand“The way of a serpent upon a rock” corresponds to Arthur's tongue on his future father-in-law's table saw. Burt Johnson (Nick Nolte) threatening dismemberment is testing Arthur's resolve to follow through. There's supposed to be a safety cutoff on the saw that responds instantly when it senses moisture. The wedding ceremony might have its own cutoff, too, “if any person can show just cause—” We shall see.

“The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” corresponds to a saucy bedroom scene. Model sailing ships line the floor at the entrance to the bedroom containing a large water bed on which shenanigans generate waves. The ships come and go, it seems, but can this latest disembark so easily?

Production Values

harlot” (2011) was a remake of Steve Gordon's PG 1981 “Arthur.” It was directed by Jason Winer and written by Peter Baynham and Steve Gordon. It stars Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig and Jennifer Garner. The leads pull it off okay. Nick Nolte was perfectly cast as the crotchety old man. Outstanding in a small part was Christina Calph playing Tiffany the tart; she was memorable under fire and had the best lines.

MPAA rated it PG–13 for alcohol use throughout, sexual content, language and some drug references. It's a dandy little movie done in the shadow of an earlier virtuoso drama. It's a well-made remake but doesn't take the cake. Runtime is 1 hour 50 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

This is the edgier version of an earlier “Arthur,” which might appeal to some tastes. It offers hope that one can turn his life around, however late in the game. Holly­wood, though, is the unabashed optimist, so one shouldn't count on later being able to undo a life of dissipation, whatever the big screen shows.

Movie Ratings

Action Factor: Weak action scenes. Suitability for Children: Suitable for children 13+ years with guidance. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Cable, George W. The Flower of the Chapdelaines. Copyright, 1918, by Charles Scribner's Sons. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918. Print.