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Not suitable under 13, parental guidance recommended 13-15 (Themes; Alcohol abuse; Sexual references; Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Arthur
  • a review of Arthur completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 18 September 2012.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to themes, alcohol abuse, sexual references and violence.
Children 13-15 Parental guidance recommended due to themes, alcohol abuse and sexual references.
Children 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Arthur
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild sexual references, coarse language and violence
Length: 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Arthur opens with multimillionaire playboy Arthur Bach (Russell Brand) and his chauffeur Bitterman (Luis Guzman) dressing up as Batman and Robin to attend a formal dinner party hosted by Arthur’s mother Vivienne (Geraldine James). An accident on the way results in Arthur being arrested and photos of the arrest appear on every iPhone at his mother’s party. In order to clean up her son’s image, Vivienne presents Arthur with an ultimatum: he must either marry Susan Johnson (Jennifer Garner), a ruthless businesswoman who will stop at nothing to marry Arthur, or be disinherited.

Unable to face the prospect of being poor, Arthur agrees to marry Susan, but then he meets unlicensed tour operator Naomi (Greta Gerwiz).  Naomi’s easy-going, quirky personality instantly captures Arthur’s heart and even Arthur’s long-suffering nanny, Hobson (Helen Mirren) warms to Naomi’s charms. Arthur is now torn between being rich, loveless and unhappy if he marries Susan, or poor and happy if he marries Naomi, and tries desperately to keep both relationships going.

Things change dramatically when Hobson becomes terminally ill and Arthur puts his own life on hold to care for her.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Playboy lifestyles; alcoholism; terminal illness

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence and accidental harm in this movie including:

  • While boxing with another man, Arthur punches him in the face and then apologises. Hobson orders Arthur out of the boxing ring and Arthur tells her, “Make me”. Hobson put on a pair of boxing gloves and punches Arthur in the face knocking him to the ground.
  • Arthur plays with a nail gun, firing nails into a plastic curtain. A man walks out from behind the curtain with nails sticking out of his chest and arm.
  • Susan’s father tells Arthur to put his face near the spinning blade of table saw. He forces Arthur’s face towards the blade, telling him to stick out his tongue because the blade’s moisture sensor will shut down the saw. Arthur struggles as his face is pushed closer to the saw which shuts down just in time.
  • Susan threatens Arthur, telling him that her father will cut off his balls if he crosses her.
  • Susan punches Arthur in the face knocking Arthur backwards. Susan’s father grabs Arthur, pinning Arthur’s arm behind his back, and tells Susan to punch Arthur again. Later we see Arthur with dried blood on his lip and a reddish bruise on his chin.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Hobson, who is dying, lies in a bed connected to a heart monitor. She falls asleep and we next see her dead the following morning with the heart monitor flat-lining. Arthur shouts out for a nurse and a nurse confirms that there is no pulse.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the idea of terminal illness and the death of Hobson

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by the idea of terminal illness and the death of Hobson

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

OK for this age group

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Various alcohol brands, Sony products.

Sexual references

Arthur contained frequent sexual references and innuendo. Examples include:

  • Arthur refers to someone as a “lesbian Simon and Garfunkle”
  • While Arthur is in the bath, Hobson instructs him to wash his “winky” as he did not know what exquisite wildlife a woman he had been with could be harbouring between her thighs.
  • Arthur, in a joking manner, tells his mother that he was unaware that two girls in a photo with him were under eighteen-years of age, or that they were really men, and that he had found out the hard way.
  • Arthur makes reference to his testicles being given a hard time and asks when they will be given a rest.
  • Hobson jokes that if Arthur kept Naomi as a mistress he would save money on prostitutes.
  • After Arthur kisses a girl on the lips, someone comments, “she’s probably pregnant now.” 
  • Hobson tells a story of how Arthur once slept with three European princesses at the same time, and how she wondered what venereal disease he may have contracted.
  • While standing at the altar at his own wedding, Arthur tells his bride to be and the crowd that he had slept with the three bridesmaids.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Hobson walks into Arthur’s room and begin to pick up various pieces of women’s clothing while partially dressed women sleep on the floor. One young woman gets up picks up some clothing and hurries out of the room. We see a rear view of a young woman wearing a shirt straddling Arthur, who is lying in his bed, then climbing off Arthur and sitting beside him. Hobson tells the woman not to let Arthur at her breast saying that she had to put Tabasco sauce on her own nipples to get Arthur off.   
  • On several occasion we see a painted portrait of Arthur standing next to Susan, who is on her hands and knees and wearing brief sexy clothing.
  • Susan enters Arthur’s apartment wearing a trench coat then opens her coat to reveal a black corset and high boots. She then attempts to seduce him, kissing him and crawling after him, undoing his shirt and pulling his pants down.            
  • While standing in church after announcing that he is unable to marry his intended bride, Arthur strips off his own clothes until he is naked except for his underwear, then walks out into the street where people look at him.
  • We see Arthur and Naomi lie side by side on a bed, fully clothed. Naomi kisses Arthur on the cheek with Arthur kissing her passionately back.

Use of substances

Arthur contains frequent depiction of alcohol use and abuse, intoxicated behaviour and drug references.

  • Arthur is seen drinking alcohol to excess throughout the film.
  • Hobson tells a story of how Arthur, while engaged in sexual activity with three women at once, was so drunk that he threw up on two of the women while he urinated on the third.  He was unable to remember any of this the next morning.
  • Susan behaves in an intoxicated manner, and when questioned by Arthur, admits to having drunk two bottles of wine.   
  • We hear a man talking about buying a crack den and turning it into a condo, and hear a second man say he did the reverse.
  • To tackle his alcoholism Arthur goes to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but only manages to last a few minutes. At a second AA meeting Arthur announces that he is an alcoholic and has not had a drink for six months.
  • A group of children make reference to drugs including crack, coke and meths.

Coarse language

There are some coarse language and putdowns in this movie, including:

  • balls, pervert, bloody, bugger, pampered prick, Jesus, bitch, tart.   

In a nutshell

Arthur is a remake of a 1980’s comedy classic starring Dudley Moore which targets an adolescent and adult audience. Arthur is touching at times and has its funny moments, but does not live up to the 1980’s classic, making greater reliance on sexual innuendo for humour.

The main messages from this movie are:

  • money will not make you happy, or buy you love.
  • true love is worth more than any amount of money.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with older children include self sacrifice and compassion as demonstrated by Hobson (and to some extent, also by Arthur).

Parents may wish to discuss how the film portrays Arthur’s alcohol abuse. Does it glamorise his alcoholism?