Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blame It on Rio (Stanley Donen, 1984)

Greetings. Blame It on Rio is an old favourite of mine (one that I don't usually admit to liking in public). It's a semi-delightful sex comedy, that strangely enough, doesn't feature any sex scenes (not even a round of naked Twister). In fact, the raciest sexual encounter was post-coital (the film's two stars can be seen swinging in a hammock together). Yet, the film has always held a special place in my cheesy film-lovin' subconscious. Mostly because it's is brimming with gaudy colours and takes place at a wonderfully furnished palatial villa (the floral wallpaper was simply divine). In case you're unaware, Michael Caine stars as Matthew, a middle-aged man who has sexual relations with his best friend's teenage daughter while vacationing together in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (as supposed to Rio de Janeiro, Utah) It's not as lascivious as it sounds -- it's actually quite innocent if you think about it. Plus, there's just something non-threatening about Mr. Caine in the role of Matthew. He has a bumbling aura about him that comforted my inner-moralist. Whereas, someone like Michael Douglas would have me calling the dirty-old-man police. Anyway, I was surprised by how well the film holds up. Sure, the film's theme song remains to be an irritating little ditty, and Demi Moore still has the charisma of a mucus-filled sock, but the contrived misunderstandings and sun-baked shenanigans that occur in this film somehow continue to enchant and titillate after all these years.

But who am I kidding, right? The reason this film is even close to being watchable is the presence of the gorgeous Michelle Johnson. She is a steaming cauldron of pent-up sexual frustration as Jennifer, a shapely temptress who's bewitching curves and well-formed crevices would cause even the most flamboyant among us to start eating crumpets. Staring into the whites of her eyes in this movie was like staring directly into some sort of eye-juice-imbued paradise. I mean, in all my years of looking at filmed entertainment, never have I seen a performance that combined cute and sexy so perfectly (it's a deft balance, believe me).

Whether she was cavorting on a topless beach (the jiggling alone was insanely hypnotic) or preparing scrambled eggs in nothing but a skimpy pair of turquoise bikini briefs and a pink tank-top, Michelle's naïve form of sexiness is forever tattooed on my brain. Oh, and the manner in which she kept saying, "Oh, Daddy!" to her father (Joseph Bologna) was so wrong, yet so right at the same time.

The nude self-portrait she takes of herself on her bed is hands-down the best nude scene in movie history. And I've held this opinion since at least 1988, so I'm not just talking out of my ass here. The fact that she strategically places a cluster of flowers over her intercourse-patch just as the Polaroid is about to taken was the cherry on top of this groundbreaking, and extremely influential bit of nakedness.

Whenever I'm asked: "What was your first celebrity crush"? (Which I must get asked around twice a week.) My answer is always, "Michelle Johnson from Blame It on Rio." Because for me she was the embodiment feminine perfection when I was a kid. In fact, I distinctly remember thinking that Michelle was the most beautiful woman alive at the time.



  1. Any idea what happened to Michelle Johnson?

    I'm hoping she became a nude model...but I'm guessing instead within 10 years she was married with 3 kids.

    Oh well. At least she left us pictures. Hope the guy knows how lucky he is.

  2. I know she used to be married to baseball player Matt Williams (Arizona Diamondbacks).

    Lucky, indeed.

    Oh, and hey, thanks for the gravity warning. :D

  3. Michelle has some of the best eyebrows in the history of foreheads. I fell in love with her after seeing Waxwork as a kid. I quite like Rio as well, apart from the horrible score/music.

  4. You admire Michelle Johnson's eyebrows? I must say, I like where your head is at. :)

    Yeah, the music totally blows. Especially the so-called theme song.