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Blame It on Rio

Released in 1984 amid an onslaught of movies by His Prolificness, Michael Caine, Blame It on Rio is one of the few comedies of the time that is legitimately funny. That's because it is written by Larry Gelbart (with Charlie Peters). An old movie and TV comedy hand from the '50s, Gelbart was also one of the wits behind the TV series M*A*S*H — as with that series, he didn't have to come up with the story of Blame It on Rio himself. It is a remake of a French sex comedy called in English One Wild Night (Claude Berri's Un moment d'égarement from 1977, with Jean-Pierre Marielle). Both are about an older man who sleeps with his best friend's very young daughter and the comic situations that ensue. In this case it is Caine as Matthew Hollis, a businessman stationed in Brazil, who is going off on a vacation to Rio with his family and his pal Victor Lyons (Joseph Bologna). Lyons is going through a divorce, and he is joined only by his daughter Jennifer (a voluptuous Michelle Johnson). To Hollis's surprise, his own wife (Valerie Harper) is also rethinking their marriage, and she goes on vacation somewhere else. It is in the seductive environment of Rio's casual nude beaches that Jennifer reveals her crush on "Uncle Matthew," and they have an affair — him unwillingly, she with intrepidity. His guilt, along with secretive machinations, lead to some funny sex-farce situations. Gelbart is the true auteur of Blame It on Rio, and director Stanley Donen stays out of the way, offering a straightforward, almost TV-like account of the script. Much of that script's verbal humor is based on middle-age crises and Lyons' divorce problems ("It's the lawyers. You'd think I was divorcing them. They feed on misery. Show me two people breaking up and I'll show you lawyers flying lazy circles.") Also on hand is a young Demi Moore, well before reconstruction, as Matthew's angry daughter. MGM's DVD release offers a slightly faded anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), probably based on the previous Laserdisc. It comes in three languages — English, French, Spanish — all in a somewhat ragged monaural Dolby Digital, and with subtitles in French and Spanish, and English closed captioning. Theatrical trailer, keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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