Blame It On Rio (1984) – A Review


A middle-aged man begins an affair with his best friends teenage daughter while they vacation in Rio. It’s the 1984 sex comedy Blame It On Rio, starring Michael Caine, Michelle Johnson, Joseph Bologna, Demi Moore and Valerie Harper.


“Last night never happened.”
“I know. I was there when it didn’t.”

I once read an interview with Michael Caine where he discussed what factors led to his final decision on agreeing to do a particular film or not.

One of the key considerations in his decision was the location of where the movie was being filmed. Where would he have to be spending his time during filming. Where exactly would he have to be for the few months to make this movie? He needed to know!

This line of reasoning might explain some of Caine’s more unusual choices of the films he’s made. Jaws: The Revenge might have been an awful film and the reason why Caine was unable to attend the Academy Awards to receive his first Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1986, but he got to spend his time working in the Bahamas. Not a bad tradeoff.

In addition to the location of where the work will have to be done to make a movie, Caine has always been honest with admitting to having a high standard of living, which also factored into his decision of whether to agree to do a movie that had been offered to him or not.

This is why he has appeared in so many movies – in order to help finance the lifestyle he was accustomed to. It wasn’t necessarily he liked the scripts or the characters he was going to play, but he was simply there for the money.

This again helps explain why Caine has such an extensive, eclectic resume. He just never really rested much. It’s understandable how he’s amassed well over a hundred acting credits on his resume.

Michael Caine Blame ItOn RioSo with both these explanations in mind you can start to understand why he agreed to make that awful shark film. It must have been a relatively easy gig, not that demanding performance-wise, the shark was meant to be the main star and he must of known that it was terrible when making it.

As he had stated, “I have never seen Jaws: The Revenge, but I have seen the house that Jaws built and it is terrific.”

Now knowing the philosophy behind his decision of making Jaws: The Revenge – location and the money – (hey, at least he’s honest!) some of his film choices now seem to make a bit more sense. So while today audiences view Sir Michael Caine as a beacon of class and quality, an actor whose appearance in a film will elevate its stature and is a magnet for awards to be bestowed upon, there’s another side of Caine that gets conveniently overlooked.

For every classic, great movie with a wonderful performance Caine has given, he has also starred in the opposite – films that are truly awful, forgettable and downright embarrassing for all involved. These cinematic misfires run throughout his career.

Flawless, On Deadly Ground, Bullseye!, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, and my personal favorite awful Caine movie The Swarm.

So, this is where our look at Blame It On Rio begins.

Caine plays middle-aged Matthew Hollis who’s been having marriage problems with his wife Karen (Valerie Harper). She stays behind as Matthew travels with his best friend Victor (Joseph Bologna) and their two teenage daughters (Demi Moore and Michelle Johnson) to exotic Rio de Janerio.

Blame It On Rio 1984 Cast Michael Caine Michelle Johnson Demi Moore Joseph BolognaWhile there Victor’s buxom daughter Jennifer’s livelong crush on ‘Uncle Matthew’ culminates in a sexual tryst between them. Matthew succumbs to the appetizing temptations of Jennifer’s attributes and he gets it on with her. Matthew comes to his senses and regrets this indiscretion and tries to put an end to this affair before Victor finds out.

Unfortunately, Jennifer is in love with him and wants the whole world to know it. Is there any way Matthew can recover from this mistake before it destroys his marriage, his friendship and little Jennifer’s heart?

Ok, so I don’t think I would necessarily categorize Blame It On Rio as a teen/sex comedy. It doesn’t have a lot of the usual qualifications we would find in the genre, plus all our sex antics are being done by a middle-aged man.

However, most of the film has him doing it with a hot young girl. This in effect was yet another movie that provided hungry adolescent eyes with seeing boobs in the 80’s – thanks to the beautiful Johnson (I’ll get to her in a minute) and became a staple on cable television. So that’s how this film ended up in this review series of the 80’s/teen/sex genre in case you were wondering.

Blame It On Rio 1984 Michael Caine Michelle Johnson sex comedyThis is something of a strange movie. It’s gotten a lot of criticism for this whole dirty old man fantasy that plays out in the lovely country of Rio. I can completely understand the flak that is hurled at Blame It On Rio.

It’s a pretty perverted premise having this much older man hooking up with his best friends seventeen-year-old daughter. It sounds like the setup for a dirty joke. That kind of thing isn’t typically admired and it certainly doesn’t seem like the makings of a comedy.

It’s hard to sympathize with our main character when statutory rape is involved. Or was this a crime in this film? Maybe that’s why they set the story in Rio, different laws there maybe and no possibility for Caine to end up in prison.

In any event, this was the freewheeling eighties where principles and ethics were thrown out the window. We weren’t meant to feel guilty about laughing at anything! Everything was fair game!

Blame It On Rio is something of an older, twisted version of Private Lessons. Instead of a young kid learning tricks of the sexual trade from his attractive housemaid, here an older man is pursued by a young nymphet.

Blame It On Rio 1983 sex comedy Michael Caine Michelle JohnsonSo whereas Private Lessons was a teenage kids fantasy, Blame It On Rio is a middle-aged mans dream. Why not let Dad get into the fun with the sex comedies!

Caine and Johnson get horizontal one late night on the beach and that begins the story or her constantly pursuing him and proclaiming she’s in love. The whole time Caine tries to reason with her that it was a mistake and she should find someone her own age, but she’s determined to make him hers (only in the movies…).

Meanwhile Bologna finds out his innocent daughter had sex with an older man and sets out trying to find out who it is so he can kill him. He recruits his best friend Caine to help him solve this mystery and madcap hijinks ensue as Caine tries to keep his pal off his scent and in the meantime try to resist the temptations of bedding Johnson over and over again – which he fails at acouple times.

Michelle Johnson sex symbol 1980s Blame It On Rio movieI don’t think Rio is as bad as it’s made out to be. It’s awfully silly, is filled with performances that are either over-the-top or just plain bad and there really isn’t much of a story in here. Most of the movie consists of just wacky little scenes of Caine trying to sneak through windows, acting all awkward in front of Bolgona or Johnson disrobing and trying to seduce Caine.

Perhaps I’m being too kind to Blame It On Rio, but I always viewed it as simply a dumb time waster and used to wonder why Caine agreed to be in it. That was until I later learned how much of his career was fueled by the paychecks and filming locations he’d have to goto.

The main highlight of this movie and the thing that stands out the most from it is Michelle Johnson. She is gorgeous and doesn’t shy away from displaying her attributes. She was plucked out of obscurity to appear in Rio by director Stanley Donan and she was an ideal choice. She’s the embodiment of the teen male fantasy at this time. You see her topless on the beach and young tongues will be wagging. She’s sort of the 80’s/teen/sex version of Bo Derek from 10.

Michelle Johnson Blame It On Rio 1984 sexy beach
Michelle Johnson making adolescents hearts swoon and wish they could goto Rio

There were many adolescents at the time who fell for her as soon as they saw her in this movie and even years later she has left countless lusting memories that haven’t faded. She’s pretty bad at the acting part, but that’s a minor quibble in the context of this film.

Most of the nudity in the movie is provided by Johnson and she certainly holds my attention – acting be damned!

There is one scene I find funny. On a topless beach in Rio the fathers spot both their daughters making like the locals without wearing their tops. Johnson is letting it all hang out, giving everyone a clear eyeful.

Yet, a young Demi Moore has her hair strategically covering her rack. It’s really obvious and I kept wondering how she managed to do that. I guess as she got older she got a bit more relaxed with doing nudity. This isn’t the Striptease Demi Moore here.

Blame It On Rio Michelle Johnson Demi Moore nude sceneAt the time Moore had an offer to play Lucy Lane in Supergirl, but instead opted to be in Rio. Although I don’t think either film would really be much to brag about having on your resume, Rio is definitely the better choice between the two.

Other than the nudity anything else I liked in Blame It On Rio? Well, I usually find Bologna a pretty funny guy. He always seemed to play guys with a short fuse and are ready to snap at any given moment. Sort of like a Joe Pesci-lite kind of character in comedies. I do find some of the scenes with him and Caine amusing. There’s attempts at some slapstick scenes, but they don’t really come off very well. The Rio locations provide an exotic backdrop and the filmmakers were sure to utilize those backgrounds to the max. It’s a great postcard movie.

Despite this not being one of Caine’s finest cinematic endeavors, he doesn’t come off very bad in this. It is kind of true, his presence in a movie does give it a bit of cache. Ok, so I understand why Caine agreed to do this movie, but how did Donen the director of Singin’ In The Rain, Charade, Seven Brides For Seven Brothers and Funny Face get involved in this? It’s kind of odd to know that this was his final film he directed.

Michelle Johnson Blame It On Rio 1984 sexy body bikini boobsIf you happen to watch Blame It On Rio the most you’ll probably be taking away from it is a good time oogling Michelle Johnson and wondering whatever happened to her.

You’ll also get to see a film that Sir Michael Caine might not be too keen to talk about today. So if you watch it and find that you’re enjoying some of it don’t feel too guilty. Caine got well paid for being in this movie and I’m sure he spent his Blame It On Rio earnings on something very nice.

And it’s definitely better than Jaws: The Revenge.


5 thoughts on “Blame It On Rio (1984) – A Review

  1. I haven't seen this film in ages…isn't it based on a French movie called ONE WILD MOMENT? Those French can pretty much get away with anything, yet you're right Donen's participation is truly odd, more than Caine's as a matter of fact. I'm glad I wasn't the only one to think of RIO when I watch FLAWLESS a few years ago. Moore probably made a better choice with this over SUPERGIRL, after all; however you are right: the film is owned by Michelle Johnson. Nice write-up!

    By the way, nice shout-outs to two flicks: Blake Edwards' 10, which I adore: Bo Derek was the first fully nude woman I had ever seen on the screen, so naturally I fell in love. Also, THE SWARM as laughable as it is, is also my favorite bad movie of Caine's. Although here's a bit of irony for you: remember when Caine explains to Widmark about their tactics endangering the honeybee: "Without the crops, you don't have food." Uh…the honeybee has actually been disappearing in recent years thanks to harmful chemical sprays provided by Bayer. See the 2009 documentary VANISHING OF THE BEES…now this is scary, lol! 🙂

  2. First saw this at a movie night party… the other film on the double bill was Bitter Moon, yep erotica was very much the topic. This is the best film to watch with a bunch of friends and girlfriends whilst inebriated on beer. Johnson is the star of this film, her nudity covers up her inexperience, and despite being the temptress her inexperinece actually makes her more vulnerable. Caine and Bologna make a good double act, and the impotant womanizing neighbour who lies about his age sadly doesn't get enough screen time.

    I'm also surprised that Donen directed this. Maybe he also need the money. However one thing I find disturbing is in the first half of the film. In the scene when Caine wakes up Jennifer (Johnson) and Nicky (Moore) Jennifer tells her friend that she used to have a crush on her Uncle Matthew, Nicky responds with "Me Too". I don't know if I'm reading to much into it, but did Nicky confirm she used to have a crush on HER OWN FATHER!? GROSS I knew the 80s were more carefree, but come on.

  3. I know the Demi line you're referring to. I interpreted it as her no longer being close to her father and respecting him. I don't think it was meant to have any sexual context to it.

    Now you got me thinking about it, it's kind of weird how Caine never smooths out his relationship with Demi in the end. He basically patches things up with everyone else but Demi who would understandably think he was an even worse person than she ever thought before! Their father/daughter relationship should be even more broken at the end of the movie. lol

    But luckily the movie just skips over that and we're not supposed to notice while that Blame It On Rio tune starts playing over the closing credits. :o)

  4. Maybe you're right, actually I'll agree with your point don't want to think that movies have taken their toll on me. You're right about the father and daughter relationship not being explored, let alone resolved. Throughout the whole film there is only one short scene between them when things come out in the open, when he belittles all the advice he has given her over the years, and Nicky cynically tells her own father that Jennifer will get over you, and to help she tells him just to be himself.

    Also I do think this film could be made in this current climate. A few months ago a film called The Oranges was released which deals with a middle aged man falling for his neighbor's daughter. Now I have not seen the film, but I imagine its less risque then Blame It On Rio ever was.

  5. Jennifer is actually 15 in the movie, not 17. Caine is described as 43 and was 28 when she was born.

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