By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Sex with friend’s daughter.
Victor (Joseph Bologna) is going through a messy divorce and in order to escape from the stress he invites his friend Matthew (Michael Caine) to join him and his daughter Jennifer (Michelle Johnson) on a trip to Rio de Janeiro. Initially Matthew was to bring along his wife Karen (Valerie Harper), but at the last minute she bails out, so instead he takes his daughter Nicole (Demi Moore) who is also Jennifer’s best friend. During the trip Jennifer’s long dormant feelings for Matthew come to a head and the two end up having a fling. Matthew sees this as a secret one-night-stand as he doesn’t want it to jeopardize his long friendship with Victor, but Jennifer wishes for it to blossom into a love affair and even considers, much to Matthew’s reluctance, informing her father about it.
The film, which has been the last theatrical feature to date to be directed by the legendary Stanley Donen, has a zesty start that features soothing music, luscious scenery and sharp dialogue. Unfortunately it goes downhill from there with the third act being the real problem. Instead of becoming an interesting character study and analyzing whether this otherwise strong friendship could survive such a shocking event it instead veers off into silliness by entering in a crazy twist of Mathew’s wife having a secret affair with Victor, which didn’t seem realistic or believable and cements the whole thing as being nothing more than a dumb, shallow lightweight comedy.
The usually reliable Caine is miscast and his big Harry Caray-like glasses become almost a distraction. His costar Bologna is the one who steals it in a role nicely attuned to his brash, hothead persona.
The weakest link though is Johnson who despite looking great topless clearly has very little acting talent. Her character is poorly defined and written by two middle-aged men who were out-of-touch with the younger generation and had no idea how they ticked. At the beginning she behaves too much like a child and then suddenly when she gets it on with Matthew she is like an out-of-control sensuous vamp, which made the character come off like two different people altogether. The fact that she shows no apprehension at all in having sex with Matthew who is much older made little sense as I would think that any normal person would feel nervous and despite the attraction even some reluctance. She also shows no concern for how stressed the whole thing made Matthew feel, which unintentionally made her appear quite selfish.
Moore would’ve been much better in Johnson’s role and in many ways sexier. I had to chuckle a bit because in Leonard Maltin’s review of this film he mentions that Demi seemed ‘intimidated’ during her topless scene at the beach, which is actually an understatement as she looks downright uncomfortable, which in turn makes the viewer feel the same way.
This film is the American remake of the French comedy One Wild Moment, which came out six years earlier and will be reviewed later this week.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: February 17, 1984
Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes
Director: Stanley Donen
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube