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Film / Blame It on Rio

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Blame It on Rio is a 1984 American romantic comedy film directed by Stanley Donen, based on the 1977 French film Un moment d'égarement, and starring Michael Caine, Joseph Bologna, Michelle Johnson, Valerie Harper, and Demi Moore.

Matthew (Caine) and Victor (Bologna) are good friends and business partners who live and work in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Victor is going through a nasty divorce from his wife, and Matthew's relationship with his wife Karen (Harper) has turned frosty. The two men and their families are headed off to a vacation in Rio de Janerio, but at the last second, Karen says she isn't going with them, but prefers to go off on a vacation by herself.

That leaves Matthew, Victor, Victor's 17-year-old daughter Jennifer (Johnson), and Matthew's daughter Nikki (Moore). The foursome heads off to Rio together. Soon Victor discovers that Jennifer, who is underage, slept with an older man. Furious, he asks Matthew for his help in catching the older man. There's just one problem: That "older man" is Matthew.

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Stanley Donen's last theatrical feature.


This film features examples of:

  • Book-Ends: In the first scene Karen surprises her husband unpleasantly, by telling him just as they're leaving for the airport that she isn't going to Rio with him, she's going to Bahia. In the last scene she surprises him again, by saying she's going to Bahia but he isn't going back to Sao Paolo, he's going to Bahia with her.
  • The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires: All women are topless at the beach and surrounded by monkeys, parrots and toucans. (In Real Life, it was then and is still now illegal to go topless on Rio's beaches.)
  • Carpe Diem: Victor urges Matthew to do this, as Victor really wants to pick up girls. Matthew won't bite.
    Victor: We're a long time dead.
    Matthew: And being unfaithful to my wife will get me that way fast.
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  • Diegetic Switch: The cheerful harmonica-and-guitar tune that plays on the soundtrack, as Matthew and the others fly into Rio by plane and gawk out the window, is revealed to be coming from two Street Musicians when the scene cuts.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Naturally, thunder is heard on the soundtrack, and a rainstorm opens up, the second after Matthew confesses to Victor about having sex with Jennifer.
  • Driven to Suicide: At the end, Jennifer tries to commit suicide with an overdose of birth control pills, but survives.
  • Easily Forgiven: Matthew having sex with his best friend's 17-year-old daughter, followed by the daughter trying to kill herself via an overdose of pills. Karen cheating on her husband, with her husband's best friend. Heck, Matthew having sex with his daughter's best friend, which the daughter actually sees happening (at the beach). Everybody gets past this at the end and they all make up, when a more rational ending would have involved someone getting murdered.
  • Fanservice Extra: All the sunbathers, who are either clad in skimpy swimwear or are topless.
  • Footsie Under the Table: Jennifer chooses to combine this with feeling up Matthew's thigh at the dinner table...right across from her father.
  • The Ghost: Victor's wife, whom he's divorcing at the start of the movie. Throughout he's complaining about losing half his assets to her and hoping that she hasn't turned Jennifer against him. At the end Matthew reveals that the two of them got divorced and promptly remarried.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Yes, Jennifer the teenaged seductress sleeps with a teddy bear.
  • A Glass in the Hand: Matthew in the next room hears everything when Jennifer obliquely confesses her one-night stand to her father. When Jennifer says "There's something else" and a nervous Victor asks "You're pregnant?", the glass Matthew is holding shatters in his hand.
  • Godiva Hair: Oddly enough, during the (in)famous scene of Nikki and Jennifer being topless, while Jennifer's top is completely exposed, Nikki has her hair conveniently covering her breasts.
  • How Do You Say: Eduardo Marques uses this stock phrase, when he meets Victor and Matthew at the produce market.
    Eduardo Marques: You are, how you say, the queer couple?
  • Imagine the Audience Naked: Inverted. Two lovely ladies wearing nothing but bikini bottoms on the beach smile at Victor and Matthew as they walk by. Victor suggests they talk to the women.
    Matthew: We can't! They're practically naked!
    Victor: Imagine them with clothes on.
  • Karma Houdini: All-in-all, Matthew gets off pretty lightly for bonking a 17-year-old girl. Not only is he not arrested, he isn't even getting divorced.
  • May–December Romance: Matthew has an affair with Jennifer, who could easily be his daughter. As in, she's actually his daughter's friend and are of the same age.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jennifer spends pretty much the whole movie either naked, semi-naked, or scantily clad. To a modern audience it could come off as Fan Disservice and invoked Squick since it's established that she's underage (and Michelle Johnson actually was underage).
  • No Fourth Wall: Both Matthew and Jennifer serve as narrators, addressing the camera directly as they relate the story.
  • The Reveal: Near the end of the movie, after Karen comes to the rental house, it's revealed that she and Victor are having an affair.
  • Shameless Fanservice Girl: There's all the topless ladies strolling around the beaches of Rio, of course, but most notably Jennifer and Nikki being totally unashamed about wearing nothing but bikini bottoms in front of their own fathers.
  • The Silent Bob: The maid at the rental house, who never says a word throughout the film, but who usually gives looks of scowling disapproval to Victor and Matthew, especially when she catches Matthew canoodling with Jennifer in the bathroom.
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Victor manages to pick up a woman who isn't his friend's daughter. They are shown smoking cigars on the hotel balcony while clad in bedsheets, after a night of passion.
  • Split-Screen Phone Call: A quite frosty one as Matthew calls Karen and gets a cold reception, after he arrives in Rio.
  • Tan Lines: The topless extras at the beach mostly have tan lines, thus showing that they aren't usually topless.
  • Thematic Theme Tune: The theme song "Blame It on Rio", about leaving your inhibitions behind and breaking the rules while in Rio, plays over the opening credits.
  • Title Drop: Victor sarcastically says "Blame it on Rio, huh," after Matthew finally confesses.
  • Understatement: Addressing the camera, Michael says of him and Karen, "Something was happening in our marriage. Nothing earth-shattering, just small signs that a husband can detect." Cut to the two of them in bed, with Karen weeping openly.

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