review for The Blue Lagoon on AllMovie

The Blue Lagoon (1980)
by Karl Williams review

Director Randal Kleiser followed up the two best projects he'd ever be associated with, the TV drama The Gathering (1977) and the box-office smash Grease (1978), with this overwrought, unmitigated crap-fest that achieves genuine entertainment value only in its grinding, even shocking, can't-look-away-from-the-accident-scene awfulness. Reaching the acting level of an elementary school Christmas pageant (an insult, actually, to elementary school Christmas pageants), the boring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins are believable only in the sense that they are persuasively stupid enough to not realize they are cousins and to sleep together, producing a baby that, in the cinematic world depicted, is an example of Aryan perfection in paradise, but which in real life, would probably suffer from an enormous number of serious genetic flaws. Scantily clad, tanned to a flawless bronze, and fitter than Olympic gymnasts, one can only imagine how, in any semblance of a real world, these characters would emanate a cloud of bodily stink strong enough to fell oxen. But this is a Harlequin romance-level drama and so it must be judged as such. Fine. Extra-special scorn must then be reserved for the material here, from which novelist Henry Devere Stacpoole and this adaptation's producers clearly intended an audience to derive a secret, sneakily erotic thrill, but which is truly just disturbing and possibly legally actionable. (If Stacpoole lived today and published this garbage on the Internet, he'd probably get arrested.) Only Oscar-nominated cinematographer Nestor Almendros emerges from the dull-witted waters of the lagoon unscathed -- his images are lushly beautiful tropical compositions that are dazzling to behold but which, for reasons that are obvious, he may not have chosen to include in his reel. Of course, The Blue Lagoon (1980) was a monster hit with those audiences understandably thirsting for bad acting about incest, and it inspired a sequel. God help us all.