Girl from Rio (2001) / Comedy-Thriller
aka Chica de Rio
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but would probably be R for language and sexuality
Running Time: 95 min.
Cast: Hugh Laurie, Vanessa Nunes, Santiago Segura, Lia Williams, Patrick Barlow, Nelson Xavier
Director: Christopher Monger
Screenplay: Christopher Monger
Review published July 4, 2005
Breezy and forgettable, Girl from Rio is a 90+ minute diversion that has just enough to keep your interest, but lacks anything fresh or funny to make you feel like you've been enriched by the experience. It's amiable enough, especially for those who actually find Hugh Laurie (Maybe Baby, Flight of the Phoenix) funny, but the laughs are just not there, and neither is any chemistry between Laurie and leggy Brazilian model Vanessa Nunes. Still, any film that has its share of Samba, dancing, and shots of the Brazilian shoreline can't be altogether unpleasant, so for an armchair vacation, it's not an altogether bad way to spend your time, even if the film ultimately leaves no lasting impressions.
Laurie stars as Raymond, the undermanager for a stuffy British bank that has been passed up for a promotion again, and then finds out his wife has been cheating on him with his very own boss. Finally fed up and wanting to get away, Raymond steals bags full of money and heads to Brazil, with a mission to dance with the woman that inspired him to become a samba dancer in his spare time, the beautiful Orlinda (Nunes). His dream finally does come true, but as he finds his dream woman, he loses his money, and soon discovers himself penniless. He must get his money back, but it seems to get it, he must first deal with Bichero (Xavier), one of Rio's most flamboyant and ruthless gangsters.
Hugh Laurie doesn't exactly make for a strong romantic lead, while Nunes is definitely gorgeous, but her acting skills are a definite liability, especially when it comes to injecting a feeling of true romance. Not that a finer pair of actors could have really made this a great film, as Monger's script lacks the wit and his direction lacks the sparkle to pull such a whimsical premise off.
All in all, it's not a truly bad movie, but it isn't a very good one either. It's so inconsequential that remembering seeing it a week from now might prove to be a chore, but if you're looking for something to take your mind away from the doldrums of life for a little while, I suppose this will do the trick.
©2005 Vince Leo