Home Video Hovel: Blame it on Rio, by Alexander Miller
I ask myself questions when approaching any movie and sometimes these inquiries keep my objectivity intact. Basic, academic level directives: “what is the director saying, how are the performances, is this art or entertainment, what stylistic decisions stand out?” But by the end of the mind-numbing and cringe-inducing affair that is Blame it on Rio, the one thing on my mind was “how, and why, was this piece of shit made?” There’s so much that goes into a film’s production – writing, editing, financing, shooting, re-shooting, editing – and no one had the presence of mind to intervene, or question the material they were committed?
Objectivity goes out the window when the core concept of a movie is gross, and the case with Blame it on Rio isn’t worth trying to contextualize, rationalize or analyze in any serious manner because the film’s mission statement is very clear. It reads as follows: sexualizing teenagers is prime content for a farcical romp, a man of 43 having sex with his best friend’s teenage daughter is the backbone of a screwball comedy, and on top of this cringe-inducing debauchery there’s the antiquated, half-assed colonialist and racist attitude that rich white men in South America aren’t responsible for their actions because, as the title implies, you can just blame it on Rio.
Usually, there’s a perverse joy in taking a shit on a bad movie. But when I have to write things like “so when the forty-three-year-old has sex with his friend’s teenager daughter” in simply synopsizing a movie such as Blame it on Rio feels downright icky.
So, Blame it Rio follows Matthew (Michael Caine) and his daughter Nikki Hollis (Demi Moore) as they travel with close family friends Victor (Joseph Bologna) and Jennifer (Michelle Johnson) to Rio de Janeiro for a holiday. The getaway leads to Matthew having sex with Jennifer, and this, apparently, is what would pass for acceptable content for a bawdy comedy in the 1980s. After all, Porky’s, Revenge of the Nerds, were all unapologetically rapey and sexist, but Blame it Rio is actually in some ways worse than teen sex comedies. This thing is a remake of Claude Berri’s 1977 film One Wild Moment, and in what feels like an attempt to “class up” the material by leaning on its European origins, it’s all tantamount the inept morals of the film. Aside from Blame it on Rio’s front-tuning issues, it defaults to even more in that its story is a lazy endorsement of colonialism by featuring a plethora of disreputable characters who won’t accept that they’re at fault for their actions. And out of two white men, conflict arises when one of them blames the influence of his setting instead of admitting that he’s a mere chauvinist who’s just a slave to his dick.
In all honesty, I shouldn’t review this thing because it shouldn’t exist, but the most ethically responsible thing I can do as a critic is to warn people to do anything but watch this nausea-inducing oddity. The material isn’t worth serious discernment because it’s inappropriate.
Lastly, this Blu-ray was recently released by the otherwise-respectable distribution company Kino Lorber, who, along with several other boutique labels, is responsible for maintaining an elevated inventory of films from all regions and genres. That’s not to say they’re all perfect, but these companies have created an identity for catering to people who care about cinema, film preservation and quality content in the dwindling arena of home video. But, I can’t help but put Kino Lorber’s interests into question because not only did they put financial effort into restoring, releasing and furnishing Blame it on Rio with special features but they are selling it in a positive light as if this film were an underrated classic, worthy of a renaissance! And to add insult to injury this year has been a tidal wave of sexual abuse, harassment, rape and a variety of malfeasance within the film industry. It’s been a difficult period, to see an industry many venerate, love even fester with predators and abusers makes it impossible to laugh at a movie like Blame it on Rio.