Blame it on Rio Recap

Jamie

Blame it on Riiioooooooo. When his wife leaves him on the cusp of a vacation to Rio with his business partner, Matthew Hollis is crestfallen. But not enough to stop him from having a brief love affair with his friend’s teenage daughter. Uh oh! Can he explain himself (answer: no), blame it on Rio, and get his wife back before it’s too late? Find out in… Blame it on Rio.

How?! Matthew Hollis is ready to go on a beautiful vacation to Rio with his wife, daughter, best friend Victor, and his seventeen year old daughter Jennifer. They just need to have a little fun seeing as Victor’s in the middle of a nasty divorce. On the verge of the trip Matthew is shocked to find that his wife has booked a separate vacation in order to think their marriage over. Devastated, he heads to Rio in a somber mood. While Victor is dead-set on sowing his wild oats in this paradise, Matthew finds every excuse to get out of it. This results in him spending time with Jennifer at a wedding during which they end up having sex. Disgusted with himself he tells Jennifer that is was a giant mistake, but she reveals that she’s in love with him and continues to make advances toward him which Matthew is somehow unable to resist (maybe he’s really dumb… that’s the kindest way I can interpret this). He tries every way to try to hide/end the love affair with Jennifer eventually culminating in Jennifer telling her father about an older lover who has broken her heart. Enraged, Victor recruits Matthew to help find this terrible pervert. Just when this sham is about to result in violence against an innocent man, Matthew reveals that he is in fact the terrible pervert. Shamed, Matthew and Victor plan to end their vacation when Matthew’s wife shows up. She is shocked by the revelation, but also inadvertently reveals her own affair with Victor! Jennifer attempts to kill herself (with birth control pills, guffaw) and everyone is really sad… until Jennifer shows up with a more age-appropriate lover and they all look at each other and laugh and laugh and laugh and decide to go back to the status quo. THE END.

Why?! When trying to describe the motivations of the characters of this film you can only conclude that the entire venture is morally bankrupt. While Matthew is certainly portrayed as dopey and weak-willed, Jennifer is alternately portrayed as manipulative and mentally unstable. This puts even more blame on Matthew for taking advantage of Jennifer, but the film does nothing to put this point across. Instead it slowly turns Matthew into a sympathetic figure, driven to the affair by his own wife’s affair combined with his inability to resist Jennifer’s advances. It is unpleasant.

Who?! Probably the most bizarre aspect of the film is the music. It is off the hook. Check out the title song. Now you’re probably all like, ‘what a weird song,’ and be done with it. But how about this little factoid: the female singer? Lisa Roberts Gillan… Julia Roberts’ older sister. This would have been just a few years before Julia broke out in Hollywood, which makes sense as Lisa’s only a couple years older than her.

What?! In what is probably the only fairly amusing aspect of the film, Matthew’s own teenage daughter is left to her own devices as he carries on an affair with Jennifer. She is shown escalating her risky behavior from staying out a bit too late to hang gliding off a cliff. So I deem this a Secret Sports Film and a great entry in the hang gliding film canon. Harold and Kumar is obviously high on the list along with Escape from LA… in fact I think this calls for a 10-episode podcast series.

Where?! Rio, baby! This is truly a maximum A+ setting given the fact that the location is the entire crux of the plot. I mean, if you couldn’t blame all the criminal things you do on Rio then how could they have even possibly conceived of such a film? Not possible. It hits rarified air along with films like, oh, I don’t know. Manhattan. Just pulling that one out of thin air.

When?! I don’t recall a specific time that this takes place. Let me google “best time to vacation in Rio.” Hmmm, it suggests that between December and March is prime time to hit the beach… well, they hit the beach so let’s pencil that in. It also says around that year-around the samba beats are irresistible. So that’s not super helpful. Hmmm, I’m tempted for an A, but I think an F is the best I can give this.

It’s hard to describe Blame it on Rio without feeling like you are taking part in something unseemly. Every aspect seems to be geared towards portraying Matthew as the unwitting prey of seventeen-year-old Jennifer’s web of sexual intrigue. He is presented as redeemable and is in fact redeemed from the viewpoint of the film by the end. It gives vibes of Lolita, which have been interpreted in similar ways over the years, and yet here they seem to have crystalized that sentiment and not left it up for interpretation. For that I can understand why even in the moment critics were appalled. Add on top that the film is cheesy (particularly the music, which can only be appreciated somewhat ironically), lacking any interesting plot and any positive aspects of the film can never, ever make up for the plot itself. It is bad and I would never recommend anyone watch it. Let it continue to fade into time until it disappears. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! Blame it on Rio? Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes. Let’s get into it!

P’s View on the Preview – This was a weird one. I think the allure of the film overall is the A+ setting (which promised vistas of many kinds … get it? I’m talking about boobs). But also that the storyline of this film is obviously quite distasteful. A 50-year-old Michael Caine is hooking up with his friend’s teenaged daughter? Greeeeeeeeeeat. If not for Chain Reaction we might have just sidestepped this one for all of time … but here we are instead. What are my Expectations? Yiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes pretty much sums that up. For real I just kind of assumed this was going to be gross. Much less chaste than The Blue Lagoons.

The Good – Weirdly, I kind of agree with Maltin in that Caine is quite good in the film. I thought this was a film where Caine just phoned it in, but no, we would be nominated for Educating Rita only weeks after this was released. The acting is pretty good overall. So are the vistas, the setting is pretty great in the end. Are there still bedroom farces these days? Seems like they morphed into erotic thrillers in the 90s. And then later there were things like This is 40, and The Break Up, which is more dramatic and about life in general. Teen sex romps are maybe the closest, and those kind of died and morphed into things like The Kissing Booth. Sexy comedies are a weird animal, I should probably watch a few of the classic French examples at some point. Best Bit – Caine.

The Bad – I think the moment the phrase “this aged poorly” was invented right after someone watched this film. It is basically an exercise in jumping through hoops trying to legitimatize a 50 year old having sex (multiple times … over and over) with his friend’s 17 year old daughter. It is gross. It doesn’t feel like the film is sex positive, it feels like it is painting something problematic with a veneer of “she wants it” and it makes me very unforgettable and I hated watching this film. There isn’t actually anything else that makes the movie bad, that’s it. It is completely torpedoed by the premise. It feels like both of the female leads are uncomfortable in the topless scenes, which makes the statements made by the director surrounding the release pretty gross as well. Fatal Flaw – Gross premise.

The BMT – Ooooof. I can’t wait to forget this film entirely. While I think eventually I’ll look into Bedroom Farces a bit more, and I’m definitely getting more interested in 60s and 70s French cinema (which I think this is really reflective of that, as the original film was from the 70s). But otherwise I don’t think I’ll really remember this as a BMT film at all. Did it meet my expectations? Unlike The Blue Lagoon this did live up to the promise of being super outdated and gross as was expected. So yes, in that way I suppose it did meet my expectations.

Roast-radamus – Who What Where When Why How – Definite Setting as a Character (Where?). Both an A+ setting and, quite literally, you are intended to blame all of the gross misadventures on the character of “Rio” so … yeah fits the bill. Perhaps a small Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that Bologna and Caine’s wife are having an affair? Definitely a huge contender for Bad though in the end, perhaps leading at the turn.

StreetCreditReport.com – I can’t find any lists with this on it. I think it is an example of a studio burying it in the winter. Perhaps back in the day that used to work, because almost all of the lists I found (like the Siskel and Ebert episode) seem to focus almost exclusively on films that came out in that summer (which also appears to have been notorious for being a particularly bad summer for movies? Hard to tell). Anyways, the only real cred is a Razzie nomination for Michelle Johnson for Worst New Star … and its gross premise of course. Probably the worst film set in Rio? I think it is a pretty decent bet.

You Just Got Schooled – Speaking of Educating Rita. Released just a few months prior to Blame it on Rio, it was Caine’s third Best Actor nomination, and seemed well deserved. Both him and Julie Walters are great in the film. You can feel how it was intended to be blocked as a play set solely in Caine’s character’s Trinity office. I loved seeing the 80s Dublin, but it does seem like it could have been more effective using the original structure of the play. In a way the statement is ironic considering there is a whole discussion within the film about how one puts on a play using a story originally intended for radio. Anyways, I loved the film, and the idea of wanting to not necessarily sing a “better tune”, but a “different tune” in life is pleasantly thought provoking. A. I won’t give it a plus, because my brain is broken and I thought the film was maybe a bit too long.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

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