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‘Wild Orchid’ (R)

By Hal Hinson
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 28, 1990

Until I saw "Wild Orchid" I didn't know the world was such a sexy place. When I looked at a flower I appreciated it, sure, but I didn't feel the color spilling out of it in delirious profusion. I didn't let its natural vibrancy reach into me, ravage me, thrill me. My senses were in chains and I didn't know it. Walking the streets, I wasn't aware of the great dance of eroticism and seduction going on all around me. But I am now. Brother, am I.

Starring Mickey Rourke and model-turned-actress Carrie Otis, "Wild Orchid" is soft-core MTV, and it goes straight to comedy heaven -- that special section reserved for the inadvertently funny. The action -- which was written by Patricia Lousianna Knop, author of "9 1/2 Weeks," and her co-author husband, Zalman King -- takes place in Rio de Janeiro, where a ravishing young specialist in international law named Emily (Otis) travels with her boss (Jacqueline Bissett) to close a multimillion-dollar deal with the Chinese. There, she meets Wheeler (Rourke), an American millionaire who isn't as interested in seducing her as he is in whispering ludicrous pseudo-zen koans into her expectant ears. Over dinner, after the mumbling becomes nearly overwhelming, she says, "You'll have to excuse me. It must be the jet lag. . . . My emotions keep getting away from me."

"That's all right," he answers. "We all have to lose ourselves sometimes to find ourselves. . . . Don't you think?"

No, thank you very much, I don't think.

This kind of thing happens again and again, with Wheeler gazing, heavy-lidded, at the virginal, blushing Emily, until finally she succumbs. But when she nestles her head against his shoulder, he pulls away. "I'm just not that good at, uh, being touched," he whispers.

Yeah? Well, how are you at being SOCKED!!

As Wheeler, Rourke rides a Harley with Easy-Rider sissy bars, wears $1,500 suits without shirts -- he has a talent for making the most expensive clothes look as if they came from Sears -- and 30 pounds of bronzer.

Otis, with her impossibly wide cheeks and full, pouty lips, is, as they say, as untalented as she is beautiful. It's impossible to imagine that anyone could make this character work, but a real actress might at least make her seem conscious.

Bissett, to her credit, is the only one who appears to know that the movie around her is a near-classic of sexy absurdity.

Copyright The Washington Post

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