Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991)
Return to the Blue Lagoon (1991)

Genre: Adventure and Drama Running Time: 1 hr. 42 min.

Release Date: August 2nd, 1991 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: William A. Graham Actors: Milla Jovovich, Brian Krause, Lisa Pelikan, Courtney Phillips, Garette Patrick Ratliff, Nana Coburn, Brian Blain, Peter Hehir

 


 

I

n the South Pacific Ocean in 1897, a shipwrecked couple, with a baby, have been drifting for days, forced away from the paradisiacal, uncharted island where they grew up. When a passing vessel nears, the man and woman are found dead, but the tiny boy is discovered alive. He’s taken in by the young yet widowed Mrs. Sarah Hargrave (Lisa Pelikan), a woman with a baby of her own aboard the larger ship. When it’s revealed that the passengers and crew are quickly becoming overtaken by cholera, the captain, thinking of Sarah’s survival as well as that of the two children she now tends to, suggests that she abandon the lot and attempt to find the nearby island from where the little boy surely sailed. Mr. Kearney (Wayne Pygram) will join her, though he turns out to be a selfish, miserable man who immediately thinks of killing the two children so that he can get some peace and quiet.

When Sarah is forced to dispose of this threat, she feels that all hope is lost – though at least the children will live a while longer. With a bit of luck, the three survivors manage to stumble upon the island, where they subsist for some time in utter solitude, contending with bad weather yet blessed with abundant natural resources (including wildlife to eat). Determining that they’re too exposed to the elements, Sarah takes the children to the south side of the island, in search of a safer haven. After locating the baby boy’s former residence, nicely constructed near the beach, the trio hole up, patiently waiting for a ship to rescue them.

“I should have explained certain of life’s facts to you years ago.” Just as in the first film (“The Blue Lagoon” [1980]), many years pass, with the children growing up away from proper instructions and typical peers. Since Sarah was previously married to a reverend, her explanations about sex are ambiguous and awkward, which certainly doesn’t prepare the two for adolescence – which is something of the focal point of the film. They’re also woefully unprepared for other misadventures, including being stalked by a hungry shark, or quarreling over rules that don’t quite make sense. Oddly, director William A. Graham opts to virtually remake a former film (based on the book by Henry De Vere Stacpoole) that was widely disparaged by critics, once again presenting disquieting visualizations of puberty with a controversially youthful cast (Milla Jovovich was only 15 at the time of the film’s debut, which apparently had no implications on her nude scenes; even the end product only received a PG-13 rating).

Along with the inevitable bother of caught-off-guard sexual maturation, the eventual young adults, Lilli (Milla Jovovich) and adopted Richard (Brian Krause), must also deal with mortality – yet another situation by which they’re tragically surprised. And potentially cannibalistic (or human-sacrificing) natives seem like a rather ominous inclusion. Of course, “Return to the Blue Lagoon” is meant to be a family-friendly, coming-of-age adventure, which means that the leads also occupy themselves with Easter egg hunts, diving for oysters, and preparing exotic dishes adorned with vivid flower petals. But teenage angst always tends to get in the way of innocence and levity. In their extreme isolation, they can’t help but to inadvertently roll around on the ground until they’re locked in an embrace (or, quite laughably, when Lilli gets inquisitive about erections).

In addition, the picture possesses strangely epic music, perhaps more fitting for a sweeping period-piece romance than a small-budgeted cult sequel. But, since Basil Poledouris again serves as the composer, it’s obvious why the soundtrack is one of the best components of the film. It’s also difficult to dismiss the voyeuristic sequences, involving Richard spying on an unclad Lilli, who correspondingly studies her changing body in a mirror; or the way the camera wanders up and down their naked figures. “I don’t touch myself!”

A love triangle (Jovovich’s eyes become daggers quite convincingly), the defining of boredom, confused interpretations of immaturity and sophistication, and the dangers of lascivious, salty sailors create extra predicaments, though predominantly of the unintentionally funny kind, especially as the plot takes on a Tarzan vibe. This is the kind of film in which the scenarios could rapidly turn toward the horrific, were it not for the limited MPAA rating, which insists upon brushing past severer circumstances. Ultimately, ”Return to the Blue Lagoon” can’t help but to be weirdly, almost comically insincere.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10