Arthur 2: On the Rocks Preview

“So this is the DVD player,” Jamie says, showing Cowgirl Jamie around. He’s ready to get his Kane game on, but CJ keeps trying to distract him. “Before we start the movie,” she quickly interjects, “tell me more about this Good Movie Twins venture. How will it be different from Bad Movie Twins? Can we expect more Rich and Poe stories under the GMT banner?” Questions, questions, questions. What’s with all these questions? Jamie looks at his GMT Rulez and crinkles his brow at Rule #6 – Exposition 4 Days. He crosses that out and replaces it with Graceful Subtlety. “Let’s not be boring,” he says snobbishly and adds mysteriously, “Life is Art, Art is Film, Film is Life. Art.” They stare blankly at each other for several moments before Jamie turns back to the DVD player, but before he can pop in Citizen Kane, CJ again shouts, “Wait!” Jamie sighs. “I’m not feeling an artsy fartsy film today,” CJ explains and before Jamie knows it she’s next to him, touching his arm and slipping his Collector’s Edition copy of Here on Earth into his hands. “It’s just that I find everything about this film super sexy.” Jamie takes the box set into his hands, the metal casing growing slick with his sweat. “Weeelllll,” he hesitates, but knows full well that it’s only a matter of time before he caves. The spell is broken with the sounds of ice clinking in a glass. A lamp goes on in the corner revealing Patrick, he’s been there the whole time. “Not so fast, Cowgirl Jamie,” he says, a steely look on his face. “Or maybe I should just call you… Saboteur!” Jamie is digging this unexpected turn of events. “This is Life. This is Art. This rocks,” he whispers. That’s right! We are indeed watching Art… Arthur 2: On the Rocks, that is! I only vaguely remember catching bits and pieces of the original Arthur on Comedy Central back in the day. Always seemed a bit boring. But now that I’m a sophisticated adult I’m sure I’ll understand why it was a huge hit that spawned a less warmly received sequel. Let’s go!

Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988) – BMeTric: 49.9; Notability: 45 – BMeTric: top 3.2%; Notability: top 4.8%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 6.5%; Higher BMeT: Caddyshack II, Mac and Me, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Poltergeist III, Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood, Johnny Be Good, Alien from L.A., Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Higher Notability: Action Jackson, Sunset, High Spirits, Big Top Pee-wee, Caddyshack II, My Stepmother Is an Alien, Moving, Cocoon: The Return, The Couch Trip, License to Drive, Vibes, Cocktail; Lower RT: Two Moon Junction, Police Academy 5: Assignment: Miami Beach, Johnny Be Good, Return of the Killer Tomatoes!, Fresh Horses, Watchers, Hero and the Terror, Hot to Trot, Illegally Yours, The Blue Iguana, War Party, Caddyshack II, Return of the Living Dead II, Mac and Me, Cocktail, Dead Heat; Notes:That feels like a huge Notability score overall. I also wonder … I have a new thing cooking. This is a perfect test. How many times did Arthur 2 play on television in 1988? The answer is 23 times. That’s 31st most for any wide release film that year. Guess what else played 23 times that year. Fresh Horses. What a fucking year. – 2.0 stars – The problem is, we don’t care what secrets the old billionaire has in his past. We don’t care how cleverly Arthur attempts to deal with the crisis or how successful he is. The very attempt to cope is a mistake; Arthur should sink deeper and deeper into bewildered confusion, until he is rescued once again by the fates, a benevolent heaven or his own good luck. The last thing we want to see in this movie, in other words, is Arthur getting better.

(I 100% agree. See the recap for more about this, but this movie ultimately feels like an annoying and useless epilogue to an bizarrely compelling original.)

Trailer –

(I mean, roll back the hits. Definitely makes it look like he’s drunk more often in the second one. In the first one he’s only drunk a handful of times, but he’s drunk in basically 100% of that trailer.)

DirectorsBud Yorkin – ( Known For: Inspector Clouseau; Twice in a Lifetime; Divorce American Style; Come Blow Your Horn; Start the Revolution Without Me; The Thief Who Came to Dinner; Never Too Late; Love Hurts; BMT: Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Notes: Nominated for 7 Emmys and won 3 for An Evening with Fred Astaire and The Jack Benny Program. He would ultimately stop directing in 1990 with the completely forgotten Jeff Daniels film Love Hurts.)

WritersSteve Gordon – ( Known For: Arthur; The One and Only; Future BMT: Arthur; BMT: Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Notes: Wrote and Directed the original, but died in 1982.)

Andy Breckman – ( Known For: Rat Race; I.Q.; True Identity; Future BMT: Moving; Sgt. Bilko; BMT: Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Notes: Nominated for four Emmys, primarily for SNL and Letterman. Still writes a ton of television, but also seems to have had a radio program for the last 25 years? Hard to tell.)

ActorsDudley Moore – ( Known For: 10; Arthur; Bedazzled; 30 Is a Dangerous Age, Cynthia; Foul Play; Like Father Like Son; Best Defense; Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Micki + Maude; The Wrong Box; Six Weeks; The Hound of the Baskervilles; Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies; The Bed Sitting Room; Blame It on the Bellboy; Lovesick; The Pickle; The Mighty Kong; The Third Alibi; Derek and Clive Get the Horn; Future BMT: Crazy People; Unfaithfully Yours; Wholly Moses!; Romantic Comedy; BMT: Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Santa Claus: The Movie; Notes: Comedian and accomplished jazz pianist. Somewhat sadly died in the early 2000s after a series of long illnesses. Nominated for an Oscar for Arthur, and famously quite short (around 5 foot 2 inches).)

Liza Minnelli – ( Known For: Arthur; Cabaret; New York, New York; The Muppets Take Manhattan; Silent Movie; The Oh in Ohio; The Sterile Cuckoo; Lucky Lady; In the Good Old Summertime; Stepping Out; Journey Back to Oz; Rent-a-Cop; Charlie Bubbles; Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon; A Matter of Time; BMT: Sex and the City 2; Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress in 1989 for Arthur 2: On the Rocks, and Rent-a-Cop; and Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress for Sex and the City 2 in 2011; Notes: Nominated for two Oscars, and won for Cabaret. The daughter of Judy Garland. Was also nominated for 7 Emmys and won one for a variety special. Which now makes me realize she’s an EGOT winner.)

John Gielgud – ( Known For: Arthur; Caligula; The Elephant Man; Murder on the Orient Express; Chariots of Fire; Gandhi; Elizabeth; Hamlet; DragonHeart; Around the World in 80 Days; First Knight; The Power of One; Quest for Camelot; Shine; The Portrait of a Lady; Julius Caesar; Appointment with Death; Becket; Lion of the Desert; Shining Through; BMT: Arthur 2: On the Rocks; Notes: Won the Oscar for Arthur, and also nominated for Becket. Was nominated for 5 Emmys and won one for Summer’s Lease. Wait … he also is an EGOT winner! I wonder if this is the only BMT featuring two EGOTers? Maybe, although you’d think one of the bad Whoopi films could fit the bill.)

Budget/Gross – N/A / Domestic: $14,681,192 (Worldwide: $14,681,192)

(That’s pretty terrible. But then again it was the sequel to a off-beat comedy made eight years later, so who knows what they really expected.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 13% (3/23): Arthur’s boozy charm curdles into a bad hangover in this unnecessary sequel.

(Yeah, that sounds about right. The unnecessary part I mean. The fist film is kind of a perfect original comedy of the type you rarely see now probably for that exact reason: films and tv are very much in the “what’s happening in season 3 / the trilogy” mode.)

Reviewer Highlight: The excruciating “Arthur 2 on the Rocks” should come with a surgeon general’s warning: “This sort of stupidity may sap your will to live or to watch movies ever again.” – Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times

Poster – A Kid in Drunk Arthur’s Court

(WTF, mate? You needed a few more shrimp on that barbie. What is the framing device being used here? Some mild points for the classic tilted A in the title but otherwise this is kind of embarrassing. D+)

Tagline(s) – No Money. Still Funny. (C+)

(Alright, this is also clearly embarrassing on its face… and I’m not going to make a case that it’s actually good… … … but… it’s tight. That’s all I’ll say. Someone wrote out four words and it ended up on the poster for a reason. Tight.)

Keyword(s) – good

Top 10: Good Will Hunting (1997), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), The Great Gatsby (2013), Hot Fuzz (2007), Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), The Wizard of Oz (1939), Man on Fire (2004), The Nice Guys (2016)

Future BMT: 67.1 Phat Girlz (2006), 63.2 Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015), 60.6 Like a Boss (2020), 51.8 Playing with Fire (2019), 51.6 The Boss (2016), 51.1 Johnny Be Good (1988), 50.7 The Hot Chick (2002), 48.4 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), 47.2 Barney’s Great Adventure (1998), 45.1 Fly Me to the Moon 3D (2007), 44.9 Fantastic Four (2005), 40.4 No Good Deed (2014), 39.5 Good Burger (1997), 37.2 The Great Wall (2016), 37.1 Stroker Ace (1983), 36.3 Milk Money (1994), 34.7 Mad Money (2008), 34.3 Mo’ Money (1992), 32.1 Good Deeds (2012), 31.3 The Nude Bomb (1980)

BMT: Epic Movie (2007), Fantastic Four (2015), The Ridiculous 6 (2015), Cool as Ice (1991), Cool World (1992), A Good Day to Die Hard (2013), Hot Pursuit (2015), The Fly II (1989), One for the Money (2012), Fire Down Below (1997), Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988), Air Bud: Golden Receiver (1998), Fire Birds (1990), Good Luck Chuck (2007), Be Cool (2005), Chill Factor (1999), Money Train (1995), Hot to Trot (1988), The Golden Child (1986), Righteous Kill (2008), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), The Wizard (1989), Fresh Horses (1988), Killer Elite (2011), Hunter Killer (2018)

Best Options (daddio): 50.0 Arthur 2: On the Rocks (1988)

(Kind of a funny series of films we got going since so many of them appear to be relying on the one or two specific films to get by. Next week is kind of the same way.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 25) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kathy Bates is No. 8 billed in Arthur 2: On the Rocks and No. 3 billed in Tammy, which also stars Susan Sarandon (No. 2 billed) who is in That’s My Boy (No. 3 billed) which also stars Adam Sandler (No. 1 billed) who is in Jack and Jill (No. 1 billed) which also stars Al Pacino (No. 2 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 1 billed) which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => (8 + 3) + (2 + 3) + (1 + 1) + (2 + 1) + (3 + 1) = 25. If we were to watch Unfaithfully Yours, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – The character of Susan Johnson was not played by Jill Eikenberry who had portrayed the character in Arthur (1981). This was because Eikenberry was at the time unavailable due to being contracted to L.A. Law (1986), playing Ann Kelsey.

Dudley Moore has been said to have based his characterization of Arthur partly on Peter Cook, whose excessive drinking had soured his and Moore’s comedic partnership in the 1970s.

The closing credits dedication states: “The film is dedicated to the memory of Steve Gordon”. Gordon wrote and directed Arthur (1981) and sadly passed away soon afterwards in 1982. Arthur (1981) was the only theatrical movie directed by Gordon.

Dudley Moore is seen playing the piano in this movie. In real-life, Moore was a pianist. On movie sets, Moore would often entertain the crew by playing the piano between breaks in filming.

The cast features three Academy Award winners: Sir John Gielgud, Kathy Bates, and Liza Minnelli.

The scene where Arthur (Dudley Moore) asks Fairchild (Paul Benedict), to put on one of his wife’s dressing gowns, when Arthur says, “C’mon Fairchild, I know you want too!”, you can hear the camera men laughing.

Preparing stage plans for the studio sets to be built on the Warner Brothers’ Burbank lot, Set Decorator Gene Callahan and Art Director Hub Braden designed preliminary set plans with elevations of all of the proposed stage sets. Viewing Arthur (1981) on video, the original upstairs bedroom set was copied and rebuilt for this movie. Arthur (1981)’s set designs incorporated levels, with entrance doors requiring a door-step landing, to step down onto the set, similar to a theatrical stage set plan. This step element was changed in this set by eliminating the step-up hallway platform. Paper doll miniature sets were mounted and presented for discussion and final approvals by Director Bud Yorkin. Set Designers were then staffed with the commencement of drawing plans and elevations. All of the New York City sets were actual locations with no studio-built scenery. Minor modifications and set dressing were added to all of the interior and exterior location sights in New York City. The yacht interior was a Burbank stage set. The yacht’s interior lounge finish was a Phillipine Mahogany wood skin veneer finish. After the skin veneer was applied to the walls, after an overnight stage closure, the veneer wrinkled due to the frigid stage temperature. When the stage was scheduled for filming the set, the stage heaters had to be continuously maintained to prevent the veneer from wrinkling.

The basement New York City clinic set was one of the first completed stage sets; except that this set’s revisions had repeated major modifications. Compared to a television budgeted set, the clinic set should have cost sixteen thousand dollars. Every time Director Bud Yorkin and Production Designer would fly into Los Angeles from their New York City filming schedule to survey the progress of their stage sets under construction, Yorkin would order character wall treatments added to the clinic set. The lower bottom vertical set walls were extended forward, with bulging wood ribs skinned with chicken wire, stuffed with newspapers, then finished in a plaster skim coat. With each of their round trip-visits, the walls were repeatedly added with more bulging layers. Their theory, such a New York City building would have had the upper floors weight, forcing the sinking of the lower basement walls, causing the sag. The final cost of this small typical movie office stage set, instead, skyrocketed to a final cost of two hundred fifty thousand dollars. A money power struggle had developed between the studio and the production company with this as an example of “I’ll show you how much we can spend!”

While the original Arthur (1981) grossed $95.5 million on its first release, this could only muster $14.7 million at the box office.

The opening scene is a takeoff on the Grey Poupon mustard commercials of the 1980s, in which two Rolls-Royces pull up next to each other and the passenger in one car taps on the window of the other car and asks, “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”

Arthur and Linda move into an apartment at 140 W. 4th Street in Greenwich Village with a rent of eight hundred fifty dollars a month after being initially “cut off” by his family.

Awards – Winner for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Liza Minnelli, 1989)


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