Between Forgetting Sarah Marshall last week, and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay this week, the comedy world is all aflutter with dangerous vacations, whether that danger is watching your newly ex-girlfriend snuggle up to her raunchy new pop-star boyfriend, or heading to Amsterdam to get some Maria lovin'.
So this time around, I figured I would dip into vacations that go bad. We could break into the smaller-scale travel films, where protagonists only go a town or state over, but Harold and Kumar already did the close traveling. Now they're going a heck of a lot farther. Interesting adventures, strange people, and romantic dysfunction are the players in this game, and for this week's double feature, I give you: Blame it on Rio and Joe Versus the Volcano.
And, just to be clear, me choosing two infamously bad movies says nothing about my thoughts on H&K. I swear!
Blame it on Rio
Remember the days when it wasn't "Oooh, Michael Caine!" but "Ugh, Michael Caine"? He wasn't always the highly respected cinematic actor. He made a lot of stinkers, but some of his fluff is fun, in that ashamed-to-admit-it sort of way, like Blame it on Rio -- a movie that all of my mental faculties detest, yet I still can't help but enjoy -- mainly because of Caine and Joe Bologna. (But I still can't believe it comes from Stanley Donen, director of Singin' in the Rain.)
Considered a remake of Claude Berri's Un moment d'égarement, Rio focuses on two men looking to take a vacation from their struggling marriages by heading to Rio with their two daughters. But Matthew (Caine) falls for Victor's (Bologna) sexy and carefree daughter Jennifer (Michelle Johnson), and they have a secret affair. When Jennifer admits to her father that she's having an affair with an older man, he goes on a rampage, not realizing that the man in question is his dear friend. But we can't forget that there's also Demi Moore as Matthew's daughter and Jennifer's friend, before she was getting snuggly to her own younger paramour with webbed toes.
It's skeezy, and only for those who can get past the subject matter (which would make it a disturbing drama in almost any other film). But it's still a slice of cinematic history. It was one of those "bad" movies, along with the likes of Two Moon Junction, that '80s kids weren't supposed to watch. And I can't stop looking at the picture of Johnson and thinking about the fact that while she was all sorts of sexy in 1984, these days tabloids would claim she was fat, or possibly pregnant. Ugh. Oh, the good old days when "thin" didn't mean bony.
Siskel and Ebert's At the Movies Discuss Blame it on Rio
What the film is like when it's dubbed.
Michelle Johnson Demo Reel
Joe Versus the Volcano
Okay, I'm cheating a little here, because the whole point of the film is that Joe isn't so much going away for a break, but to die. Nevertheless, it's a wacky adventure in a far-off land -- one that is not only unbelievable because of its content, but also because it has great talent being so very bad. The film's cast boasts the likes of Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Dan Hedaya, Amanda Plummer, Carol Kane, and the ever-wonderful Ossie Davis. It was written and directed by John Patrick Shanley, the scribe behind both Moonstruck and Alive. But still, it's a terrible movie perfect for those who prefer a little goofy camp in their servings of Hanks.
I'll never forget sitting my 13-year-old self down in the theater and watching this "simple" premise -- Joe is a hypochondriac who finds out that he's got a terminal disease. Obviously not thinking with all cylinders, he accepts an offer to live out his life as a king -- IF he then willingly throws himself into a live volcano. On the way, he falls for Meg Ryan, and his adventures get complicated by more than just traveling adventure.
Luckily, this didn't kill either Hanks or Ryan's careers, or their on-screen chemistry -- the pair starred in the uber romcom Sleepless in Seattle 3 years later.
Joe quits his job.
Joe's luggage raft.
Joe's theme by Eric Burdon.