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Michael Caine plays Matthew Hollis; a man on holiday in Rio with his best friend Victor Lyons (Joseph Bologna). Both men have teenage daughters with them. When Caine falls for Victor's daughter Jennifer (played by Michelle Johnson), they embark on a secret, if slightly one-sided relationship. Victor is furious when he finds out about the 'older man' in his daughter's life, and sets out to hunt him down with the aid of Matthew! Written by
The beach scene in which Matthew Hollis (Michael Caine) and Victor Lyons (Joseph Bologna) see several topless women (including their daughters) is Ipanema Beach. Not only is Ipanema Beach not a topless beach, topless sunbathing is not permitted on the city beaches of Rio de Janeiro. See more »
You read a plot synopsis for Blame It on Rio and immediately you think that this just has to be a terrible movie. And besides being terrible it's also going to be downright uncomfortable to watch as the story centers around some wildly inappropriate behavior. They'd never make a movie like this today you think and thank goodness for that. Yes, those would probably be your thoughts before you watch this movie. But then you watch it and it's actually not that bad. Yes there is that uneasy feeling throughout due to the fact that the subject matter is more than a little icky. But the movie is entertaining. It's light-hearted fun. In fact you could even call it charming if not for the fact that there's nothing particularly charming about a middle-aged man having sex with his best friend's teenage daughter.
So our story is about this exceedingly inappropriate relationship. And the movie plays it for laughs. And it works? Ah, the 1980s. A very different world from today that's for sure. Blame It on Rio is never uproariously funny but there are enough good comic moments sprinkled throughout to keep things moving along nicely. In playing Matthew, the man who can't resist the charms of the teenage temptress, it is Michael Caine who really holds the movie together. An awkward character to play no doubt and Caine makes it work. From the moment we meet him, even before his wild fling, Matthew never seems entirely comfortable in his own skin. Preying on that awkwardness is his own personal Lolita. She goes by the name of Jennifer and is played by Michelle Johnson for whom comfort in her own skin was apparently not an issue. Yowzers! Easy to see how it would be difficult for any man to resist her feminine charms. But Matthew, you're forty-something, she's a teenager, and she's your best friend's daughter! This can't happen! But it does and...hilarity ensues? Yeah you wouldn't think this is a particularly comedic situation but that's the direction in which this movie goes and somehow it kind of works.
It's hard to fully embrace the movie as none of the main characters come off particularly well. The Matthew-Jennifer relationship is not the only inappropriate thing going on here, not by a long shot. You'd think Jennifer's father, what with his best friend sleeping with his nubile daughter, would be the sympathetic character. But, as portrayed by Joseph Bologna, he's a sleaze too. Who in this movie isn't? Well, there's Matthew's daughter Nicole. Demi Moore plays the role and it's a smaller part compared to Caine, Johnson and Bologna. But if you sympathize with anyone it's her. She has an innocence about her. All the adults in this movie have lost their innocence long ago. And her friend Jennifer can't wait to lose hers...with Nicole's father no less. Poor Nicole. She even has to suffer in comparison standing next to the voluptuous Jennifer on one of Rio's famous topless beaches. At this point in her life Demi Moore had not yet embraced the wonders of surgical enhancement and that leaves Nicole bashful, trying to cover up her modest assets with her long hair. Jennifer? She's not bashful. But somehow she's still sweet and charming. And there's still a vulnerability and touch of innocence to her even as she's taking off her clothes and seducing a middle-aged man. It's hard to figure. The story shouldn't work, the movie shouldn't work, we really shouldn't be finding any of this funny. But somehow the end result isn't that bad at all. Go into this movie with low expectations and you may well be pleasantly surprised.
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