Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)
Arthur - 2 Repetitive and 2 Late
If projectile vomiting ever becomes an Olympic event, you would do your country proud. - Hobson
Despite the faults of "Arthur" it has to be said it was all good fun even if laughing at a drunk sometimes felt a bit wrong. But then as is the norm the studio tried to capitalize on its success and 7 years later they gave us "Arthur 2: On the Rocks", a decidedly mediocre movie and a disappointing sequel. The problem with "Arthur 2: On the Rocks" lies in the fact that they have manufactured a storyline which whilst still primarily a comedy takes Arthur away from being the fun, harmless drunk. It just doesn't feel right and not only that it also stretches jokes out long after they are funny and even Arthur's drunken exploits, and incessant joking just doesn't quite come off.
Having left Susan Johnson (Cynthia Sikes) standing at the alter in favour of Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli) life pretty much carries on as normal for Arthur (Dudley Moore - Santa Claus). Hobson (John Gielgud) may have passed away but Arthur still lives a charmed, affluent life style more often or not in a drunken daze. Even the fact that Linda can't have children doesn't spoil things for the loving couple because they will adopt instead. But when Susan's father Burt seeks vengeance on Arthur leaving him penniless and with no way of getting a job it seems that life suddenly can't get much worse.
"Arthur 2: On the Rocks" sort of starts okay with us once again meeting Arthur drunk in his chauffeur driven car and basically annoying the hell out of someone. But whilst familiar and similar to what we saw in "Arthur" it feels drawn out and repetitive. And it doesn't stop there as whilst we have the storyline developing about Arthur and Linda losing everything the jokes, those funny scene and drunken gags all suffer the same issue of being drawn out and repetitive.
But in a strange way that's not the real issue with "Arthur 2: On the Rocks", the real issue is that what made "Arthur" funny was that we laughed at the harmless drunken antics of Arthur, but here we have a storyline where Arthur has to learn to be responsible. It just feels wrong and that humour, the incessant joking seems almost an after thought as the storyline develops. In fact the actual storyline itself isn't that bad, it's quite nice it's just wrong for an "Arthur" movie.
And of course the outcome to all this penniless misery for Arthur and Linda is obvious, come on you can't have a couple who are so perfect for each other ending up in a miserable life, it just doesn't happen in the movies. But the way the whole mess gets sorted is ultimately pointless and has a feeling of being created in desperation having spent the majority of the movie trying to recapture the humour of "Arthur".
The good news is that although "Arthur 2: On the Rocks" has major issues Dudley Moore is as entertaining as ever as the lovable drunk. The jokes may be the weaker; they may be repeated more often but watching Dudley Moore stumble around and still having a laugh when life is kicking him in the nuts makes up for the rest of the movies inadequacies. And Moore is not alone as Liza Minnelli returns as Linda and the partnership is as wonderful as ever. It's as if Moore and Minnelli were partners away from the screen with the chemistry and comic timing between them as good as ever.
Aside from Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli no one else makes any real impact not even Paul Benedict who plays Fairchild Arthur's new rather stiff butler. In many ways the supporting cast end up used more to make some set piece, irrelevant gags work rather than aid with the main storyline. So we get Geraldine Fitzgerald returning as Arthur's grandma Martha Bach who on the advice of her doctor has started to take a little exercise, which consists of watching a lycra wearing fitness instructor work out.
What this all boils down to is that "Arthur 2: On the Rocks" is ultimately a very weak movie and one which just doesn't feel right. The comedy of watching a drunk Arthur is lost this time around and with the storyline developing so that Arthur has to act more responsibility it just doesn't feel right. The good news is that Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli are as good as ever delivering plenty of comedy and actually making quite a nice, if a little oddball, couple.
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