Paradise (1982)

Reviewed By Chris Parry
Posted 01/01/03 11:00:40

"A Blue Lagoon rip-off starring Willie Aames and a monkey."
1 stars (Total Crap)

The awful tagline of this monstrosity of a film is, “A World Where A Boy And A Girl Discover The Most Intimate Secret Of All.” If that intimate secret is how to make a terrible movie, trust me, it’s been well learned, for Paradise can be summed up in six words – “Blue Lagoon, with Willie Aames. And monkeys.” And yes, it’s every bit as bad as that sounds.

In the 1800’s, two western families are traveling from Baghdad to Damascus with an Arab escort. Only, one of those families contains Phoebe Cates, who is hot beyond belief, so an Arab bad guy, imaginatively called The Jackal (Tuvia Tavi), decides he must have the white girl at any cost. So he kills everyone but Willie Aames and Cates. Why he’d not kill Willie Aames is a question we could spends hours trying to decipher. After seeing this film, you can bet there’s thousands that would volunteer for the job.

So Aames and Cates, both mere teens at the time, wander off into the desert for days on end before finally discovering some coastline. This allows them to build a hut, cook elaborate meals and generally have a grand old time. It also allows them to make friends with a monkey… a monkey that masturbates a lot.

Now, anyone who doesn’t have a problem navigating the task of tying their shoelaces should have brains enough to realize that this flick is a blatant rip-off of The Blue Lagoon, which in itself was a remake of a 1949 film, which was a remake of a 1923 film. How blatant a rip-off is it? Well, in Germany it was released as Das Blaue Paradies. In Portugal it was called Paraíso Azul. Both translate to The Blue Paradise.

It’s basically two teenagers lost in the wilderness, learning about how their pee-pees work, getting naked a lot and eventually getting knocked up and rescued. Only this film has more nudity than Blue Lagoon, much worse acting, and some of the most ridiculous plot twists and ploys till the running time that you’re ever likely to see. Willie Aames is to acting what Michael Jordan is to baseball – he stinks. He really stinks. He’s like a dead body pulled out of the Hudson after three days floating – that’s how badly he stinks.

Phoebe Cates may well also have stunk, but she’s naked so often your brain will probably have trouble actually registering that she’s talking, let alone acting. If you ever wondered what happened to her career, this film would be exhibit A.

And then there are the monkeys. Now, we all know that adding a monkey to a desert island flick is like adding a midget to a comedy – it’s guaranteed box office. But when you make that monkey more intelligent than the leads, you’re not exactly helping sell the story. In Paradise, the monkey (which for some unknown reason is named Doc) can play the flute, knows military attack tactics, can understand everything said to him and could probably kick my ass in Trivial Pursuit. Suffice to say, he makes Willie Aames look like a mental amoeba.

But as bad as Aames is, the writer and director of this high farce, Stuart Gillard, takes things to new cinematic lows. A former writer on Mork and Mindy, this motard’s career took him to such masterpieces as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and The Return of the Shaggy Dog. As for career lows, they begin and end with this dreck.

Let’s take the bad guy, The Jackal. This dude shows up with his cohorts on horseback, swings a sword about, seems able to kill anyone and everyone, but all Willie Aames and his monkey have to do is collapse his tent and the dude is thwarted so badly that two teenagers can run across the desert to safety, without him having a chance of catching them. Then, every time they make such a mistake, they’ll find a new watering hole just before they’re going to die. Then they set up camp again, then the bad guy shows up six weeks later, only to be thwarted again. Truly, as far as bad guys go, this one is so incompetent that he deserves to be in this kind of awful film.

I could go on and on, but all you need to know is that there are a few nude Phoebe Cates scenes, and then a whole lot of mind-numbing filler designed to pad out the time between Phoebe Cates nude scenes. And as attractive as Ms Cates is, she’d need to be able to do a Robert DeNiro impersonation with her tweeter to make this movie worth sitting through.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.