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Wild Orchid Reviews

You know you're in trouble when even Jacqueline Bisset can't save a film. Not that there's much of her to be seen in this inane eroto-drama. In fact Bisset, as the character Claudia, has just enough time to make an entrance before she takes off for Buenos Aires, where she winds up at a wedding--drinking, dancing, and threatening to put a leash on some rich old guy who couldn't be happier about it. Unfortunately, while Bisset is off having all the fun, we're stuck watching a makeup-encrusted, earringed Mickey Rourke, as Wheeler, introducing Carre Otis (playing Emily) to the world of sex and sensuality during Carnival in Rio. If only this were as steamy as it sounds. In fact, aside from some snippets of stock footage, there's not much more to be seen of Carnival than there is of Bisset. The plot, or what little there is of it, begins as bright-eyed, innocent young Emily bids her family a tearful goodbye upon leaving Kansas to pursue a career in international law in big, bad New York. After seeming to sleepwalk through her interview, she is hired on the spot, apparently because she is able to leave for Rio the next day. She hooks up with fellow lawyer Claudia, whom she is to assist in closing a deal with some Chinese investors to save a floundering Rio resort development, while easing out the original developer, who caused the floundering. None of this has much of anything to do with anything except to interrupt the scenes between Otis and Rourke, though what the latter's character actually has to do with the plot is anybody's guess. For what it's worth, Claudia, upon arriving in Rio, finds that the developer has fled for Buenos Aires, and leaves Emily in the care of Wheeler, with whom Claudia has been inexplicably obsessed. Wheeler (as in wheeler-dealer) is an uneducated street kid who overcame a stutter and became wealthy by buying and selling real estate. He steps in, late in the film, to muddy the deal with the Chinese by buying an old hotel that is part of the property of the proposed resort. His price for relinquishing the lease turns out to be a hot minute with Emily in the film's doubly controversial climax. (The scene was reportedly trimmed to win the film an R rating, and actors Otis and Rourke were rumored to have actually had sex on camera. That's entertainment?) But, again, all of this is merely filler for what Preston Sturges, in a much wittier age long past, referred to as Topic A. Wheeler, to entertain sweet young Emily, takes her to places where people wear masks and have photogenic sex at the drop of a G-string. For the most part, we're spared the spectacle of Rourke/Wheeler au naturel since, like BEING THERE's Chauncey Gardner (from a wittier age not all that long ago), Wheeler likes to watch. It's left to Emily to give him something to watch. Going to one of these masked-sex places, she allows herself to be used as a whore by an American while Wheeler looks on. And isn't her face red when the American turns out to be her adversary in the negotiations to remove the developer from the resort? Well, actually it isn't. That would imply acting skill. Otis, a fashion model making her movie debut, was cast after original choice Brooke Shields reportedly balked at the role's copious nudity. Here Otis shows little evidence of any skills beyond the ability to look good wearing nothing but a sheen of sweat. To be fair, she doesn't get much help from director Zalman King or from the screenplay--cowritten by King and Patricia Louisianna Knop, who in the past have helped put the boredom back into big-screen sex with SIESTA; TWO MOON JUNCTION; and the immortal 9 1/2 WEEKS, also starring Rourke. It would be charitable to describe WILD ORCHID's script and direction as dreary; downright deadly would be a more accurate assessment. Emily seems not so much fresh from law school as from day-care. Her eyes pop in wonder that people actually do these kinds of things with their clothes off--as if they didn't have sex in Kansas, let alone law school. And, needless to say, there is precious little lawyering going on. In fact, it's somewhat difficult to figure out what it is that Emily does for a living when she isn't running around with Wheeler all night and sleeping in until noon. That's just as well, since Otis doesn't resemble a lawyer any more than she resembles an actress. Her main accomplishment is that she almost manages to make Rourke--who still reads dialog as if his lips were glued together--look good. Rourke's inflections may be for the best, actually, since the idiotic dialog rolls off the tongue like congealed gobs of peanut butter. Even Bisset has to struggle to keep from looking embarrassed. Sadly, despite these numerous flaws, WILD ORCHID isn't even bad enough to be good. (Nudity, sexual situations.)