Blu-Ray Review: Original ‘Arthur’ Movies Available to Compare to Russell Brand Remake

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CHICAGO – Critics were pretty hard on the remake of “Arthur” starring Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Garner, and Greta Gerwig (including our very own Patrick McDonald, who gave the film 2 stars out of five) and the film relatively bombed at the box office, opening in 2nd place to “Hop” and making only $12.7 million in its first frame with a lower per-screen average than “Hanna” or “Soul Surfer.” Now you can compare the new version to the award-winning original and its dreadful sequel in a 2-movie collection, now on Blu-ray. Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0
Blu-Ray Rating: 2.5/5.0

Warner Bros. could have used the opportunity of the remake to offer a truly impressive version of the 1981 original complete with digital remastering, featurettes, a commentary, and maybe a deleted scene or two. That didn’t happen. This is as minimal a tie-in release as can possibly be made. The two films weren’t even given their own individual discs. It’s “Arthur” and “Arthur 2: On the Rocks” on one disc with zero special features and a transfer that looks like a typical upconvert. There’s nothing of note here other than the fact that fans of the film can now own it in HD.

The first “Arthur” was released in July of 1981 and made a fortune ($95 million in 1981 dollars), going on to earn four Oscar nominations (including a nod for Dudley Moore and Original Screenplay) and winning two for Supporting Actor John Gielgud and Best Song (“Best That You Can Do”). It was a phenomenon and produced a sequel seven years later that deservedly tanked at the box office, making only $15 million after receiving horrendous reviews. It’s an awful film and should only be viewed as a curiosity.

Arthur and Arthur 2: On the Rocks was released on Blu-Ray on April 5th, 2011
Arthur and Arthur 2: On the Rocks was released on Blu-Ray on April 5th, 2011
Photo credit: Warner Bros.

If you can find it cheap and love ’80s comedies or Dudley Moore, then that’s the only reason to pick up this 2-movie collection. Otherwise, we might want to let the “Arthur” story die down just as critics and viewers have done with the remake and just as Warner Bros. has done with this lackluster release. If no one else seems to care much about “Arthur,” why should you?

“Dudley does right! Dudley Moore is Arthur, the irrepressible, irresponsible playboy who faces marriage to a woman he detests to keep his fortune…and then meets the right woman (Liza Minnelli) from the wrong side of the tracks. John Gielgud won an Academy Award® (1981’s Best Supporting Actor) as Arthur’s acerbic valet. “I’ll alert the media,” he says when Arthur announces his intention to take a bath. The title tune also won Oscar® gold for Original Song. A business deal bilks Arthur out of his fortune and he must (egad!) get a job in the sequel Arthur 2 on the Rocks. But laughs are still the common currency as Moore, Minnelli and Gielgud return. Enjoy!”

“Arthur” and “Arthur 2: On the Rocks” star Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, and John Gielgud. The original was written and directed by Steve Gordon. The sequel was written by Andy Breckman and directed by Bud Yorkin. The remake is playing in theaters now. content director Brian Tallerico

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