Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Playback Tuesday: Arthur (1981)

I can't say that I am not a little surprised and confused about why the movie Arthur made into The Best American Screenplays. Granted, I've never seen the movie, and the script wasn't bad...it was just over-the-top. Maybe this is one of those times where my link to the 80s fails me? I know relatively little about the 80s, besides the fact that I was born in the decade. I can only hope that more context about the time period would make this comedy about a free wheeling, rich alcoholic playboy who manages to find love in a working class girl at the risk of losing his 750 million dollar inheritance more humorous. It's the way in which our beloved protagonist, Arthur, swings dangerously from one side of the pendulum to the next as he attempts to come to terms with a belated adulthood. He really is hot and cold when it comes to this love story that seems to get strength from everyone grabbing at some sort of stake in his wealth...including Ralph, Linda's working class, unemployed dad who so badly wants to see the couple work out because he dreams of "...Buicks, Florida, and fast food restaurants." It would seem fitting that the happy (read Arthur gets to keep his 750,000,000) resolution occurs when Linda and Arthur tempt his cantankerous grandmother into relinquishing the money by engaging in an open conversation about their children being "barbers or sanitation men." This, of course, will not do. Thus, the money is handed over quite peacefully. Despite this film winning two academy awards (one for best supporting actor and one for best original song), I dare say this movie would have a hard time getting made today. I never felt that the Arthur had to sacrifice anything. It seemed as if all of the sacrifices were made by others, including his faithful servant Hobson and the rich girl he scorned, Susan. And, because of his lack of sacrifice, I didn't feel sympathy for him, or truly believe that he was able to grow from his experiences. I can't say for sure if I am right, but a look at the movie poster for Arthur II (below) makes believe that perhaps I am.

Arthur (1981)
Screenplay Steve Gordon

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