Paradise (1982)

Let’s jump back, for a moment, to 1980.  At the time, a young actress by the name of Brooke Shields was considered both a very pretty girl, and an up and coming actress.  In 1978, Shields starred in a movie called Pretty Baby which covered the taboo topic of child prostitution in the early 20th century.  She was 12 at the time of shooting, and she appeared nude in the film.  If you were 10 to maybe 15 years old at the time, you might have thought that was the tits, but if you were older, you’d probably be some sort of sex weirdo if you found any pleasure in that.

Now, two years later, in 1980, Shields would go on to appear in the very popular The Blue Lagoon, about two young kids being marooned on an island where they grow up in their own ways learning how to express their sexual and romantic feelings toward one another and even giving birth a child.  Again, plenty of opportunity for Shields to be naked, but this time, she testified on record that an of-age body double was used for the scenes in which her character’s breasts were exposed.  Any shots of her that would reveal both her face and her body were cleverly shot with hair covering her bits or shot from different angles as not to show anything.

As an aside, one year later, Shields appeared in Endless Love which is also about a young girl getting plowed.  What was it with everyone wanting to have sex with an underage Brooke Shields?

Now that I’ve bored you with those details about all these lurid movies Brooke Shields appeared in that sexualized her before she turned 18, let’s talk about the final feature in Phoebe Cates MonthParadise.

It’s a ripoff of The Blue Lagoon.

This too was made with several shots that seem to reveal Cates’ breasts and also finds her in several revealing outfits and her exploring her burgeoning sexuality with a curly haired boy.  There were some stories that circulated that Phoebe was incredibly displeased with the experience making the movie and the final product itself.  In fact, she refused to take part in promoting the movie at all.  Her co-star, Willie Aames, despite being bothered by certain elements of the movie and the production itself, was kinder and did help promote the movie in junkets and on talk shows.  To this day, it’s highly unlikely you will ever hear Phoebe Cates speak a word about this movie.  I suspect she’d rather consider Fast Times at Ridgemont High (a far better movie and a much better experience for her) to be her first, real movie.

And if you’d think I was just going to start the review by simply glossing over who I said was her co-star was, you don’t know a single thing about me.  Yes, Willie Aames, the guy who played Buddy on Charles in Charge…  The guy who is Bibleman…  This guy is the lucky son of a bitch who got to hang out on an oasis with a scantily clad teenage Phoebe Cates.  You suck, Bibleman.  Well, at least the people who do the Razzies thought you sucked because they nominated you for Worst Actor.

This isn’t helping…

Normally, I’d give a synopsis from Amazon, or IMDb, or, even better, the back of a DVD box, but my DVD came from Korea and the only things that are not in Korean are the actors’ names, the title of the movie, and the fact that apparently, Willie Aames is not circumcised.  So allow me to simply say, this is a Blue Lagoon ripoff about two young being chased by an Arab guy who take shelter in an oasis and start banging each other hard.

Okay, as the movie starts, I fully expect to see that this was a Cannon release, but no.  It isn’t.  It was made by some Canadian guys.  While the credits play out and we watch some Middle Eastern people walking around with their camels and such, I should also bring up that there is a song from this movie that actually became somewhat popular.  The song was sung by Cates herself and that was one thing she definitely supported about the movie itself.

The movie itself begins in Baghdad in 1823.  Sarah (Cates) is walking about with her manservant, Geoffrey (no, not me, some old British fuddy duddy).  The locals don’t seem to be very big on the British in general.  That seems fair for early 19th century British Empire denizens.  So, a slaver by the name of the Jackal sees Sarah, and as you might expect, wants to purchase her for slavery.  A friendly local declines to help and tells her to be careful.

She watches as the slave trade goes down right in the center of town.  A girl is rushed to the stage and her top is ripped off to reveal her tits.  Young David (Aames), rushes up to try to cover her but gets a fresh one across the face for it.  His parents, seemingly Puritans of some fashion yell that these Iraqi dudes are non-believers and will burn in hell.  While that seems to get a little auto-biographical for Aames, Sarah is enjoying the wonders of the bazaar while Geoffrey tries to procure a caravan for their travels.  Sarah meets a chimp who bares a strong resemblance to, but still is not, me – and that lucky chimp gets a couple kisses from the lovely Sarah.

David’s family joins Sarah on the caravan across the desert.  As they depart, the Jackal watches on.  And because this movie takes place in the Middle East, there are several minutes of Middle Eastern music as we see the line of camels traveling through the barren desert.  They bed down for the night and a lot of people seem to give David some odd looks.  I’m not sure if it is because his dad is a preacher and kinda preachy about it, or if they are trying to figure out if he’s the guy from Charles in Charge.  He wanders into a party where he watches a belly dancer do her thing and gets a little embarrassed by what I’m sure is a huge teenage Willie Aames boner.  It gets even larger as he watches a topless Sarah bathing (only seeing her bare back but still… you know… hot).

The next morning, the camp is attacked by the Jackal.  David’s father grabs a sword and shouts, “Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord!” and is immediately killed.  Which is pretty goddamn hilarious.  Also, David’s mom gets killed pretty brutally too.  I also found that funny because I’m a horrible, horrible, garbage person.  David and Sarah escape through a well with Geoffrey.  There was a member of the caravan who betrayed the group to the Jackal and he’s killed for asking for his payment.

You know what?  I’m not too sure this movie is going to be very complimentary to Arabs and Muslims.

“Shh… there there…  I’m going to be in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but I’m sure this Bibleman thing will be great!”

David buries his parents before they move on to show us more camel walking through desert with Arabic-themed score.  Sadly, the trio have lost their trail and don’t know where they are.  Geoffrey says they need to keep moving or they will die.  When Sarah agrees to push on due west, Geoffrey mutters to himself that they will die even if they do keep moving.

Good thing that David finds a cave with fresh, warm water.  Geoffrey collapses and appears to be sick.  Sarah looks through a medical book for answers on what to do.  She finds a drawing of a naked male and giggles.  She says to David that guys look funny to which he responds in two ways – 1) you look funny too (agreed, boobs are weird – wonderful, but weird) and 2) you shouldn’t look upon nakedness as it could be a sin.  You know what, Willie Aames?  If I wanted you to get preachy, I’d watch your work in the animated Dungeons and Dragons show.  Okay?  Anyway, this leads to some flirtation as she seems to be a little more open minded about stuff and David is much more sheltered.

This is what I imagine Caramellos look like before chocolate is poured over them.  I have no idea what I mean by that, but it makes perfect sense.

Also, seemingly time passes and David learned to use a slingshot like thing to kill rabbits for food and enjoys watching Sarah shower in the waterfall inside the cave.  Be careful, David…  I’m sure Sarah is something of a serpent that will lead you to sin.  Meh, whatever, just take a look at dat ass.

This is where some controversy lies with the movie’s production.  Phoebe Cates was not yet 18 when this was filmed.  Yes, by the time she had her famous topless scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, she was 18, but not yet during this movie’s production.  The director, Stuart Gillard, wanted a bunch of nude shots, and Aames and Cates protested that the film didn’t need the number of nude shots in the script.  Supposedly, Gillard returned to Canada to find a body double, but the final edit of the film included all the shots filmed, some of which were not really approved by Aames and Cates after their protests.  Gillard also said that 99% of what is seen is on screen is what Aames and Cates shot.  This is probably why Cates never supported anything beyond the theme song and won’t really discuss the film to this day.

Once Geoffrey is well enough to travel, they prepare to continue onto Damascus.  Geoffrey spots some people who may be able to help them.  When he doesn’t return, David goes on a search and finds that he was killed and gutted by the Jackal.  David returns to Sarah and they carry on alone.  This leads to…  You got it.  More scenes of a camel traveling through the desert to Arabian style score.

Eventually, they find the shoreline that provides them with a paradise of sorts to take comfort in.  OHHHHH…  That’s where they got the name of the movie!

Wet see-through bodice…  You’re the tits!

This place has lots to offer.  There is greenery, animals around to graze and ultimately eat and provide clothing, a waterfall with a pond to bathe and play in, and a cave to call home and hide from invaders.  Earlier, when Sarah was looking through the medical book, David made mention to Adam and Eve and the garden of Eden, and I’m guessing that’s a lot of what we’re going to see here.

Some time has passed and they’ve built a home for themselves, and even fashioned themselves some clothing – which is nothing more than a bikini for her, and a loincloth and vest for him.  Soon, they receive a visitor in the form of a chimp.  They name him Doc because… sure.  Whatever.

As more time passes, David tries to get better with the bow and arrow he lifted from the Jackal’s camp when he found Geoffrey.  Sarah starts discovering her own body by looking into the reflection in the pond and touching her own tits.  That’s pretty awesome.  She asks David about her boobs as they are starting to grow larger.  Because David is a sheltered dumbass, he doesn’t understand what it is she’s trying to get him to notice despite her jutting her tits out as much as possible.  Yo, David…  Take it from a guy who really doesn’t hardly get any and can’t read signals from broads at all…  I think Sarah wants some of that diiiick.  So much so, she sneaks over to your bed while she’s completely naked to sneak a peek at what you’re packing while you sleep.

We’re into the part of this movie that will essentially be meet-cute after meet-cute.  Lots of playfulness between the two kids.  Lots of chemistry.  Lots of sexual tension.  Lots of Phoebe Cates often going topless or showing her ass or being completely nude.  Oh and she starts having her period too.  Oh and the chimpanzee jerks off in front of them.  David is embarrassed and incensed by Sarah saying it is a natural thing and all males do it – even probably him.

“You may call me Ali-Baba Islamabadguy.  Or the Jackal. You can choose whichever one is easiest for you.  In the meantime – vape life, bro?”

The Jackal is closing in on David and Sarah’s paradise and they hide to plan their escape under the cover of night.  The Jackal’s guys find the couple’s home, and when they raid the home, they find some of her belongings and ultimately burn down the the little shack before pushing on.  I mean I guess I get it, Jackal.   You really want some of that young Phoebe Cates puss, but goddman dude.  You are spending, what would seem to be, at least weeks if not months chasing after her into the desert.  Yeah, it’s the desert and you guys have a pretty good way about being in the desert, but shit, dude.  Are you that obsessed with the teenage American actress playing a British girl without an accent that you would chase her throughout the entire Middle East?

Just as I ask, she goes full nude to swim in the ocean and we see it allllll.  So yeah, Jackal.  Yeah I get it.

David tries to kiss Sarah and she rejects him saying she doesn’t think she’s ready.  He starts yelling that she won’t ever be ready because she’s been reading the medical book.  He runs back to their home and starts tearing out the pages that talk about the body and sex and burns them before tossing the rest of the book into the sea.  You know…  The appropriate response someone would have when their girlfriend says she may not be ready to get fucked.

While David is fishing for food, it’s revealed that Sarah has been captured and taken to the Jackal.  David goes on a rescue mission…  with the chimpanzee and the recently acquired lady chimpanzee freed when the Jackal’s men last stormed their home.  That’s a fucking sentence I just wrote.  Willie Aames and two chimpanzees are trying to free Phoebe Cates from an encampment of some bad Arabian dudes.  There’s no other way for me to state that to make it sound any better.  However goofy as it sounds, Bibleman and his chimpanzee friends save Sarah and escape.

Now, I’m gonna admit, that seemed a bit too easy.  I mean the Jackal is a real bad dude.  He’s killed DOZENS of people in this movie to get Sarah and this dope just comes in and steals her back in his own camp.  As it turns out, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed.  David was stung by a scorpion at the camp and is now very ill and in need of help desperately.  You know what would make him getting healthy a little easier?  Yeah, David, that book you burned.  See why burning books is no good even if you have some righteous reason?  Anyway, he gets better so it’s no big deal.  Problem introduced…  Instantly solved.

Also solved…  massive attack of blue balls for the last several weeks.

I usually have the same look when I get boob too.

While the movie is kind of charming in a relatively bad way.  I mean it tries to be something so much more than it really is.  The movie tries to be this profound discovery of love and sex for two young people.  But it’s not really all that special.  It’s like how romance novels treat love and sex as being far more passionate and caring or rough or whatever than it really is.  In my experience, it’s usually one half of a couple being way more into something than the other that leads to one person working his balls off to fulfill his needs while the other just lays there waiting for it to be done to finish the laundry.  When you try to make something that isn’t all that unusual more profound, it comes off as hokey and ultimately, kinda stupid.  I will always appreciate a naked Phoebe Cates, but Willie Aames isn’t terribly likable because he seems to be driven crazy by not getting his rocks off.  The Jackal is just a bad guy that isn’t all that interesting.  There are chimps in this movie because why not?  I can’t say this movie is all that offensive, but it definitely is slow moving and kinda boring.  If there’s one thing to be offended by it’s that we see ALL of Phoebe, but when Willie is swimming naked with her, they actually blur out his dong.  Goddammit, I actually wanted to see his fucking dong.

I can’t believe I said that, but I’m for equal opportunity nudity.  Especially when we see both Willie and Phoebe, herself, groping the shit out of her tits.

After the chimps have a baby, Sarah reveals to David that she too is pregnant.  However, the Jackal is still hot on their trail and closing fast and they must, yet again, escape.  Their camel gets exhausted and dies.  They didn’t put enough distance between themselves and the Jackal so David realizes they can do little but hope they can hide enough to move again at night.

When the Jackal comes for them, David stands defiant and fires an arrow at him, missing.  Before the Jackal can kill him with his sword, David hits the Jackal with the second arrow, killing him.  The showdown between David and the Jackal was well done and tense, but I kinda feel like if the Jackal was the reason for them to be on their own and lost, if he never chased after them and ultimately found them multiple times, it would have made little difference in the movie at all.  They could have stayed in their little shack and it could have then been a case of either having issues between themselves they have to mature and figure out or a just been a story of their rescue.  They do eventually find Damascus, and the chimp family leave them behind to make their own life and Sarah and David rush to the city to return to civilization.

Wait…  Chimps don’t live in the Middle East.  Oh my god.  They are going to die horribly in the wild in a place they aren’t accustomed to living.  Oh no.  Those poor monkeys.

Whatever.  The movie is over and again, it’s not that terrible, but it’s overblown and just an excuse to have two young people do sexy things together.  In particular, it’s an excuse to have Phoebe Cates go completely tits out any chance they can make.  And if they had a body double like they promised the actors they would to alleviate how often she went nude, the director and producers were full of shit and used none of those reshoots.

Regardless of the issues with the movie and the struggles Phoebe Cates would go through with the makers of the movie, it performed fairly well.  It was made for about $3.5 Million in Canadian money and made almost $6 Million in the U.S.  That means in 1982, it made back about half of what it cost to make from the United States alone.  While Willie Aames was already a known actor from being on Eight is Enough just before this, he would go on to find some minor fame on Charles in Charge.

Of course, Phoebe Cates did much better.  This was just the launching point for her.  Her very next movie was the immensely popular and beloved Fast Times at Ridgemont High before scoring more leads in Private School and ultimately Gremlins.  While she eventually bowed out of acting sooner than most would expect, it wasn’t for a lack of being well loved as an actress.  None of the movies I talked about this month had her to blame for their near obscurity.  She also had a bit of range.  She was typically saucier and more of an object of beauty or desire early on, but morphed into playing the “good girl” later.  I can say I do miss seeing her in things lately, but I have a wonderful idea for what I think she could do while still remaining retired.

Why not have her be a character on Bob’s Burgers and have her be a love interest for Mr. Fischoeder (voiced by her real life husband of nearly 30 years, Kevin Kline)?  That would be goddamn amazing.  No doubt she would be asked to return for a Gremlins 3 if her and Zach Galligan’s roles are reprised instead of it being a simple remake.  If nothing else, she should at least consider that as a return to the Kate Beringer role if for just one scene.

Sadly, this brings about the end of Phoebe Cates Month.  We move on now to a month’s theme that was picked by you, my dear readers.  What is it you are torturing me with?  I’ll reveal it on May 1st!

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