In love with the girl of his best friend…
Two men separated from their wives go on holiday to Rio with their daughters. One finding himself alone with the other’s daughter, unexpectedly embarks on a short-lived love affair with her. But she’s in her late teens and he’s much older.
Blame It on Rio Official Trailer #1 – Michael Caine Movie (1984) Movie HD, Movieclips Trailer Vault, http://www.youtube.com
This time we are headed for South America for another of Michael Caine’s famous “paycheck movies” for the romantic comedy, Blame it on Rio (1984). Or if you are familiar with the cast, a possible Caine does a Brat Pack movie. The cast is headed by Caine alongside Valerie Harper, Joe Bologna and Michelle Johnson. With an early appearance from the Brat Pack’s Demi Moore in this only her fourth movie. The film with probably one of the most irritatingly catchy film theme songs in the 1980s. The song in question being Blame it on Rio sung by Lisa Roberts Gillan (as Lisa Roberts) and Oren Waters. And the subject of constant controversy due to the age difference between the lovers within this movie.
Starting with a middle-aged man Matthew (Caine) talking to the fourth wall (with that tousled mop of hair he had in so many of his 1980s films). Matthew tells how holidays often come with surprises and virgins. We then cut to a young girl – also talking to the audience – Jennifer (Johnson), telling us that it had been a hard summer for her with her parents divorcing… and she was finding it difficult to smile.
The story then starts in Sao Paulo where business man Matthew Hollins works with Victor Lyons (Bologna). Victor is up to his eye in paperwork, this from his lawyer with demands from his soon to be ex-wife. Hollins and his wife are due to leave for Rio with 17-year-old daughter, Nikki (Moore). With Victor and his similarly aged daughter, Jennifer accompanying them.
However, all is not well in the marital bed for Matthew, his wife is crying unexpectedly and tells him of feeling neglected and unloved. As they prepare to leave for Rio, she tells him she’s going on holiday elsewhere “to think”, putting Matthew in turmoil and confusion. Breaking this news to him, immediately before they leave by taxi for the airport to Rio for their wee break. Victor and Jennifer join them to leave for the trip, while she is discussing this with Matthew. And Matthew (and Victor) tries to reason with her as Matthew is trying to make sense of the situation.
On the plane although initially upset at his wife’s absence, Matthew looks forward to Rio. This with a clip of a lovely Black and White film played out in his head with a plane and dancing-girls aplenty. Then on arrival in Rio, Matthew and Victor try to give their daughters a pep talk about men. (As Dads do for girls of all ages). With the girls ridiculing their fatherly concerns. It’s evident during this that Jennifer can wrap her dad round her little finger, as a later curfew arranged. Later, Jennifer confides in Nikki that she used to have a bit of a crush on her father.
After they settle in Matthew phones Karen, who in an extremely awkward – split screen – conversation tells him that she needs time to think, while he says he misses her. Meeting their neighbour (José Lewgoy) at breakfast, the three men lament on their current love difficulties. One day, out driving the girls spot a wedding party and then ask their fathers to go and join these celebrations on the beach. It’s all loud music, customs and crowds so the two dads head for a quieter bar with a singer.
There it’s apparent Victor has an eye for the ladies, and he encourages Matthew to have a fling. Matthew however stresses he believes in his marriage. Victor leaves Matthew’s company to chat up a lady, so Matthew returns to the wedding party alone where he bumps into Jennifer. Soon after, finding himself alone with her on the beach, she kisses him passionately. He responds to her kiss, but is witnessed by daughter, Nikki.
However in scenes after this the two are implied to go much further… as he removes his famous 1980s spectacles… However he wants out and finishes things, and she’s in love but crushed so she tells her father about it, but missing out Matthew’s name. Victor trusts Matthew with the news, and asks him find the older married man who broke his daughter’s heart…
This film although a comedy touches on many moral themes in the storyline. Such as Matthew and Jennifer’s age difference, and Matthew’s feelings of immediate remorse and guilt that he has betrayed his wife. However he also confesses on falling in love with an apparent minor at 17 (however this age appears up for debate on the internet). Admittedly some of Caine and Johnson’s dialogue is quite unfunny, inappropriate and extremely controversial.
Jennifer – played by Michelle Johnson in her first role – at 17 has her character appearing quite young and like Matthew confused on how to react with the unfolding events. Initially appearing more sexually confident than Matthew, you may feel she may be a Lolita inspired character. In contrast in other scenes Jennifer appears more her age and besotted and relentless with her pursuit of this older man. With both in desperation resorting to a witch doctor for answers, as you do in a farce movie. Especially in the 80s ad early 90s (Ask Andrew McCarthy’s 1993 Weekend at Bernie II‘s character)
The other characters, have Bologna playing a womaniser who is quite happy to go out all night and he has some fun. comic scenes with Caine. Harper’s Karen seemed initially underused, but well used. Her initial scenes with Caine reflecting their relationship were convincingly played with a dryly amusing observation of this married couple. These scenes showing many of those clichéd gender related differences of a troubled relationship. Demi Moore’s character Nikki was underdeveloped with surprisingly only few scenes with her father and mother, throughout the movie. Which was shocking with her apparent awareness of the unfolding events. I felt this missed out on many comic opportunities. Although she did have some cutting dialogue aimed at her father which was wonderfully executed.
The film tells of the differences in the South American locations with Caine and Bologna’s character working in Sao Paulo and then telling how this city is more for work, as Rio is where you go for fun. Rio was lovingly seen through the film be it the wonderful touch where Hollis remembers the Fred Astaire musical and dance number from Flying Down to Rio (1933) followed up with wonderful shots of Rio landmarks from the plane.
The sound track also has an upbeat Latin American vibe with the soundtrack often played with the musicians often appearing. Then singing their contribution to the soundtrack in the movie shot, for example with one song they wandered through the beach. This reminding me of some of the scenes in About Time (2013) in the subway, with the subway buskers in a similarly themed shot. The aerial shots and shots of the holiday home, had lovely luscious green and leafy surroundings and with exotic animals and birds in the house. These as well as adding to the farcical elements at times also added to the ambience, as did the garish leafy wallpaper.
The culture of this South American city was also seen, as the girls went to the beach wedding party. And this an interesting way of seeing more of a Brazilian wedding, its customs and how it is celebrated. This along with the vibrant colours of Rio compared to the grey buildings of Sao Paulo reinforced Rio as the place where Hollis and his party would have fun and a break from their concerns back home be it their or their parents marital problems.
If you see this film purely as a film where a man has a fling with his best friends daughter – it is quite a fun movie with some great set up scenes and pay offs. To my surprise the director Stanley Donen of classic movies such as Singing in the Rain (1952) and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1952) directed this his last movie. The film was based on a French film, Un moment d’égarement () recently remade with Vincent Cassell in Caine’s role. This also known as In a Wild Moment, which seems to sum up this film quite aptly after all, you could hardly blame it on Rio.
Weeper Rating: 😦😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂🙂 🙂 🙂10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: No
Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage Blogathon, No 55.
This was reviewed for Aurora at Once Upon a Screen‘s Hollywood’s Hispanic Heritage blogathon. Films with this cast include Michelle Johnson in Dallas (1978-91). Demi Moore in About Last Night and St Elmo’s Fire. Michael Caine starred in Bullseye, Interstellar, The Eagle Has Landed, Surrender, The Swarm, The Hand, The Prestige, Escape to Victory and Dressed to Kill.