Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Arthur 2: On the Rocks

Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Comedy, USA, 1988; D: Bud Yorkin, S: Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, Stephen Elliott, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Paul Benedict, Cynthis Sikes, Kathy Bates, John Gielgud

Tycoon Bert Johnson doesn't give up his plans of Arthur Bach marrying his daughter Susan, so he buys off enough shares of the Bach family to control their fortune: he then freezes all of Arthur's money to force him to marry Susan. Arthur, poor for the first time in his life, and Linda find a small apartment. But Arthur can't find a job because Bert keeps using his influence to have him fired. Since Linda is infertile and figures she brings bad luck, she leaves Arthur who gets drunk and has hallucinations of Hobson's ghost. He tries to put pressure on Bert by showing evidence of his fraud in a business decades ago, but he in unimpressed. Still, Susan has pity on him and gives him back his fortune. Arthur and Linda reunite, adopt a baby and she tells him she is pregnant.

After a rather modest career success in the 80s, Dudley Moore returned to his most iconic role, the one of the lovable drunk millionaire Arthur Bach and starred in the sequel "Arthur 2", filmed 7 years after the first one. Even though most of the critics were really too harsh towards it, since it's a solid, sweet and positive sequel, "Arthur 2" still displays the difference between a talented and a routine author when we have two films, side by side, with the same actors, budget and concept, yet one is a very good comedy (the original) and the other just an all right film. Moore and Minnelli all give their best and thus some jokes are rather funny, like in the scene where Linda tries to imply that Arthur should finally find a job ("Honey, we have to become a two income family". - "Oh...So, you're going to find a second job, then?") or when a drunk Arthur talks with random people in the bar ("I had 750 million $ and lost them. I've looked everywhere: under the couch, behind the fridge...But I can't find them anywhere"), yet it's somehow hard to shake off the impression that the lifeless story is just an exercise in futility. It simply seems hollow and anemic, the resolution of Arthur's problem is poor while it's quite contrived to have John Gielgud reprise his role of witty butler Hobson - as a ghost. "Arthur 2" doesn't quite justify it's continuation of the story, yet maybe it better to have at least an all right sequel for the fans than the prospect of no sequel at all.


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