ARTHUR THE KING Tells an Interesting True Story, But is a Bit Heavy-Handed

Based on the non-fiction book Arthur – The Dog Who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home, Arthur The King tells the story of an adventure racing team that encounters a stray dog during their competition, which eventually becomes their mascot and inspiration. The movie is of the feel-good variety, and though I have not read the source material, I can see how the screenwriters and director chose to emphasize and embellish certain events in the film. That is not to say that I did not enjoy or find this film intriguing. However, the filmmakers’ more heavy-handed approach is evident in how they present the story.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Michael Light, a man who is obsessed with adventure racing. For those unfamiliar with the sport, an adventure race involves navigating a wilderness course that involves running, hiking, mountain climbing, and kayaking. This obsession has proven costly for Michael, as his multiple attempts to win have fallen short due to his ego and desire to win at all costs. After taking some time to acknowledge his shortcomings, he sets out to assemble a new team of some of the more talented racers he knows.

As his new team attempts to take on the latest race in the Dominican Republic, they encounter a rough-and-tumble stray dog that seems to follow them wherever they go. The team dubs the pooch Arthur, who becomes their unofficial mascot and inspires them to persevere despite their challenges. In Arthur, Michael discovers an underdog kindred spirit with whom he connects and helps keep him focused on what his priorities should be.

It all sounds rather corny, and it is, to a certain extent. However, I will give some credit to director Simon Cellan Jones and screenwriter Michael Brandt for making this movie work. As I stated above, the filmmakers added some more dramatic elements to the story that go a little overboard and add an additional element of drama that the story doesn’t need.

As far as the cast is concerned, Mark Wahlberg performs solidly as Michael Light, a man often blinded by his ambitions and cravings to win a competition that he has failed due to his hubris. The film also stars Simu Liu as Michael’s teammate Leo, a man whose primary goal is to capitalize on his image and fame. Nathalie Emmanuel portrays Olivia as an expert climber whose courage and drive help keep the team motivated. The film also features fine turns by Ali Suliman, Juliet Rylance, Rob Collins, and Michael Landes.

Arthur The King opens in theaters this weekend and is a fine family movie. The film is rated PG-13 for strong language and harrowing moments, but if parents feel their children can handle it, I recommend it. I wouldn’t strongly encourage watching it theatrically, but it is absolutely fine for a family movie at home.

Leave a comment