Warner Bros. // 1988 // 100 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // April 22nd, 2005
"I've just heard great news: We're going to inherit the earth." -- Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore), telling his wife that they've just become dirt poor
Everyone's favorite tipsy socialite (noooooo, not Paris Hilton) is back for another round -- pun intended -- of laughs and giggles in Arthur 2: On The Rocks. After narrowly dodging an impending marriage to an upscale woman he didn't love, the filthy rich and perpetually drunk Arthur Bach (once again played by Dudley Moore) is now married to Linda (Liza Minnelli), the bubbly pick-pocketing waitress he met in the original film. As Arthur and Linda prepare to adopt a child (because, really, what a drunk middle-aged man needs is a kid), they find themselves thrust into the poorhouse by Susan Johnson's (Cynthia Sikes) vindictive father, Burt (Stephen Elliott). If you recall, Susan was the woman Arthur was originally supposed to marry, but Arthur left her standing alone at the altar. It seems that Susan still wants to marry Arthur, and her father will stop at nothing to make his daughter's wish a reality. After Burt takes control of some business ventures from the Bach family, thus getting the upper hand financially, Burt gives Arthur a dire ultimatum: Divorce Linda and marry his daughter, or be cut off from his family fortune forever!
I watched the original Arthur and fell asleep about half way through. This isn't to say that the first film is bad; on the contrary, it was both a critical and commercial success. For whatever reason I just couldn't get into it, after renting it preparation for reviewing Arthur 2: On The Rocks. That I liked the sequel better than the original -- or, better put, that I stayed awake for the sequel -- seems like something of a victory, since the first film is considered a classic while the follow-up is looked upon as a shining example of a polished turd...which it is.
The late Dudley Moore had a unique charm about him in movies like Micki & Maude (where he played a two-timing lovable louse) and Foul Play (as a perverted sex addict). He was known as a ladies' man, even though he looked like a background actor playing a Hobbit in The Lord of the Rings. Despite his diminutive size, Moore's self-deprecating attitude and comedic timing kept him at the top of his game in the 1970s and through the 1980s. By 1985, Moore's cinematic track record began to wane; starting with the misfire Santa Claus: The Movie and continuing through bombs like Like Father, Like Son and Crazy People, Moore slowly began to fade from moviegoers' radar. The worst of the lot, I can only assume, is the abysmal sequel Arthur 2: On The Rocks.
Arthur 2: On The Rocks isn't quite as torturous as one might think, but it's not very good, either. Because it's a follow-up to what is considered a comedy classic, Arthur 2: On The Rocks fares even worse than most crappy movies. The problem doesn't really lie with Dudley Moore; Moore is still genuinely likable and funny in the role of a drunken man-child trapped in a world of wealth and fame -- kind of like Michael Jackson, except not as creepy. In fact, most all of the actors in the film are fine. Liza Minnelli shows that in her prime she was a formidable actress and holds her own against Moore.
No, the problem with Arthur 2: On The Rocks is that the story just isn't interesting. What makes Moore's character funny is that he's often drunk and usually entertaining, even when he feels like a slightly tragic figure. When you take Arthur out of his predicament -- inebriated and goofy -- and plop him into the poorhouse with a need to rise to the occasion of being a better man...the movie goes flat. We want to watch Arthur fat, drunk, and happy, not growing into a decent human being. There are a few laughs to be found (when Arthur's ex asks him, "Weren't we happy?" he responds, "Of course. And then we met") and Moore is a delight to watch. Sadly, the movie around him is a mess of contrived plot lines and dumb characters.
The 1980s churned out some really good movies, and even a few sequels worth seeing. Unfortunately, Arthur 2: On The Rocks wasn't one of them. The film isn't a train wreck, but with thousands upon thousands of movies out there for you to see, why would you want to spend two hours of your life watching something as inconsequential as Arthur 2: On The Rocks?
Arthur 2: On The Rocks is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. All in all, this transfer is in good working order. The colors appear to be bright and well rendered and the black levels are dark without any graying. Since this is a middling comedy sequel, I wasn't expecting something like The Matrix. While this picture won't blow you away by any standards, it supports the film just fine.
The soundtrack is presented in a lackluster Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo in English and French. There isn't a whole lot to report on the sound mix -- it's a front-heavy mix devoid of any surround sounds. Then again, do you really need to hear Arthur cackle and giggle in 5.1 or DTS? All aspects of the mix are free of any major hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English, French, and Spanish subtitles.
You Arthur fans will be sorely disappointed to find out that the only extra feature available on this disc is a single theatrical trailer for the film. Commence your disappointed binge drinking!
Review content copyright © 2005 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailer