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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Bolero
Bolero
MGM // R // July 26, 2005
List Price: $14.95 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Scott Weinberg | posted September 18, 2005 | E-mail the Author
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It's pretty amazing what we humans will do for sex.

And I'm not even talking about how much trouble we'll go through for the pleasure of participating in sex; no, I mean it's simply mind-boggling how low we'll sink just to get a few lurid glimpses of someone else having sex.

We will actually go out, pay good money, and sit for two hours while earth-shatteringly abysmal movies like Caligula, 9 1/2 Weeks, and Showgirls parade across the screen, just because they promise to scatter a few slimy minutes of sensuality amidst the endlessly abysmal storytelling.

And we haven't even gotten to John & Bo Derek yet. Filmmaking team comprised of a husband who loves nothing more than watching his bride get plowed by other men, and a stunningly beautiful fashion model who's apparently more than content to model the birthday suit in front of any camera she sees, Bo & John produced four feature films in the 1980's -- each one as painfully terrible as they were laden with lots and lots of Boflesh.

They started off in 1981 with the laughable Tarzan, the Ape Man and the even worse Fantasies. 1984 saw the release (some would say festering discharge) of Bolero, and the lovers would cease torturing the universe after the release of 1990's Ghosts Can't Do It. (Although apparently they could.)

Seemingly oblivious to the fact that every professional film critic, paying customer, and carbon-based life-form in the known universe considered them the Adam & Eve of truly worthless cinema, John & Bo just kept plugging away, and I'll leave it for you to decide if that pun was intended.

Tarzan was dismissed as a first-time aberration, but Bolero earned a critical shit-storm virtually unseen outside of maximum security prisons ... and the complainers had some vaild points. Those who decried Bolero for being moronic, insipid, unintentionally hilarious, and not much more than a pictorial spread combined with the world's stupidest "bodice-ripper" plot construction were only scratching the surface. Basically, if you want to become a nobel laureate on the subject of bad movie-making, your very first thesis paper should be on the John & Bo Derek ouevre. And that paper could easily run about 200 pages.

Plot? Fair question. Here goes:

Lida MacGillivery is a 30-ish-looking 1920s prep-school graduate who's supposed to be about 18. (Whatever.) A mega-wealthy free-spirit with a killer bod that doesn't quit, Lida decides that, immediately following graduation, she's going to lose her virginity. Period. So she goes overseas, woos a shiek, and bores him to sleep before she skips over to Spain, woos a matador, becomes a "woman" in one of the most annoyingly chat-laden deflowering sequences ever conceieved, and then watches in horror as her lover's physical manhood is mangled by a bull, before coaching her hunk back to heavenly horniness through the healing power of naked boobs, and (finally) has much sweaty sex in front of a smoke machine while a neon light blinking "Exstasy" winks in the background. Then the end credits roll and you're forced to admit that, yes, you just sat through one of the worst movies ever made just so you could see about 9.6 minutes of Bo Derek's full-frontal wonderment.

This just in, horndogs: You can get the exact same thing from a 4-dollar back-issue of Playboy ... and it sure as hell won't cost you 105 minutes of lifetime.

The main problem with Bolero, which is a truly hard problem to pick out from amidst the rubble of moronic dialogue, non-sensical plot turns, and piss-poor acting performances, is that the thing was written and directed by a man who had absolutely no talent whatsoever. Sure, as a photographer and/or cinematographer, John Derek may have had some serious skills, but unfortunately, one cannot sustain a feature-length movie while boasting the sole skill of "knowing how to take hot pictures of my famous wife's nekkid bod."

A film created solely for the purpose at leering at the director's wife's tits, Bolero is hysterically, biblically, and in every other adverb imaginable ... awful. It's painfully, egregiously, aggressively, and almost endearingly inept. (I said almost.) Plus it's got George Kennedy in it. Oh, my head.

The DVD

Video: The Widescreen (1.85:1) Anamorphic transfer is, to my eternal surprise, actually kinda solid. Mr. Derek's long and languid looks at various boring landscapes come across in crisp and clear form, plus you'll be able to see all the gooey bubbles in the honey that's strewn across his wife's unclad body in one of the flick's most hilarious sequences. Fans of the pause button will most likely appreciate the picture quality; most logical guys will just stick to straight porn, tyvm.

Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, which delivers Derek's breathy cooings in fine aural form. A word of warning, though: It's been said that those who listen too closely to the dialogue offered in Bolero will instantly turn retarded. (How else could I explain this review?) For those who can read English, Spanish, or French, and love to do so while staring at jigglin' juggs, bouncin' boobs, and tantalizin' ta-tas, I have good news: We have subtitles.

Extras: MGM shows mercy by offering only the original theatrical trailer, which features almost as much nudity as the entire film, and does so in less than two minutes.

Final Thoughts

I can't be the only one who finds the idea of a director making a movie about nothing other than his own wife's naked ass a little disconcerting. Yes, Bo Derek was, at one point, one of this planet's sexiest women. But her film career ruined all that; After Tarzan, Bolero, and Ghosts, she became known as a very sexy actress with very little talent and a very horny husband.

Those who adore movies "so bad they're hilarious" might consider giving Bolero a shame-filled weekend rental, but I gotta say: Movies this absymal should only be handled by trained professionals. Cinema this toxic can either kill you with laughter or simply turn your brain into a pool of sex-obsessed pudding.

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