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‘Girl From Rio’ (2001)

Girl From Rio

Have you ever dreamt of escaping to a land where the sun, sea sand and most of all Samba dancing is in everyones prime lifestyle? Raymond has!

Directed by:

Christopher Monger

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 102 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Spain, United Kingdom

‘Girl From Rio’ is one of those listless, generic rom-coms that’s a nice enough way to fill time while it’s on, and is then instantly forgotten about as soon as it finishes. Everything about it, from the tepid, restrained and utterly British sense of humour to the casting of Hugh Laurie in the lead role just screams “pleasant” – and pleasant is all this film is.

Laurie plays Raymond, the hapless bank clerk whose sole passion in life is samba dancing. He reads about it, he watches videos of it – he even teaches it. Of course, slightly unusual samba obsession does not a good husband make, so it’s not entirely surprising to find his missus Cathy (Lia Williams) is nookying behind his back with his boss Mr Strothers (Patrick Barlow).

Upon finding out about his other half’s philandering ways, our weedy hero decides there can be only one possible course of action: he robs the bank and flees to Brazil in search of his favourite dancer Orlinda (Vanessa Nunes). He finds her, they dance, they enjoy a spot of rumpy-pumpy, and it looks like our Ray has somehow landed on his feet – until Rio’s campest gangster (Nelson Xavier) gets involved, that is.

Front man Laurie has carved a career out of being the likable face of toffery, but we’ve seen in both this and the abysmal Maybe Baby that his strength is not as a romantic lead – it’s in delivering sharp, well-written comedy, and preferably as a buffoon such as the Prince Regent in ‘Blackadder’. Meanwhile, love interest Nunes is almost hypnotisingly beautiful – but it’s still not enough to hide the fact that she can’t act for toffee.

Writer-director Christopher Monger’s screenplay tries to be part-‘Lavender Hill Mob’ part-Fish Called Wanda, but the jokes are limp and all we’re left with is the fairly hollow tale of a man who’d probably bore you to tears if you actually met him. It’s hardly a recipe for success, and no real surprise that the film has all the impact of a balloon landing on a sack of feathers.

It's Got: Hugh Laurie looking extremely uncomfortable in attempting to pass himself off as a serious Samba dancer. It’s a bizarre old sight.

It Needs: A leading lady who can act as well as she looks and dances.

DVD Extras Nowt. DVD Extras Rating: 0/10

Alternatives:

A Fish Called Wanda, Quick Change, The Lavender Hill Mob, The Parole Officer

Summary

Its heart is in the right place – it’s just the rest of it that badly needs working on.

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