The Blue Lagoon (1980): More Goony Than Blue

Brooke Shields and Chris Atkins have all the fun

The Blue Lagoon 


Rating: R

Run Time:

Stars: Brooke Shields, Christopher Atkins

Writer: Douglas Day Stewart

Director: Randall Kleiser

NOTE: This review originally appeared July, 2, 1980 in the Huntington Park, CA Daily Signal and Downey Southeast News. 

Someone must have thought The Blue Lagoon, a new movie about a young boy and girl stranded on a tropical island, would have been a real box office-boffio; kind of a no-holds-barred episode of Fantasy Island. Indeed, chances are the film, which srargs Brooke Shields, will be a big money-maker. But as a movie that aims to present a portrait of awakening adulthood and explicit present the sexual flowering of two adolescent, The Blue Lagoon is more goony than blue, more silly than sensual.

Almost from the outset, producer-director Randal Kleiser seems maniacally bent on convincing the audience that underage nudity in films is okay, particularly under the warm Pacific sun. He belabors the point however, with long, tedious swimming, running-on-the-beach and romping-through-the-jungle sequences, making the viewer feel he is trapped in sore sort of National Geographic Twilight Zone.

Sadly, apart from the romping, cavorting and eventual sexual trysts, not very much happens in The Blue Lagoon. True, the girl does get bitten by a poisonous fish and the highly unfriendly natives on the other side of the island slaughter a couple of their fellow tribe members, but that’s about it.

Rated R for the nudity of young stars Shields and Christopher Atkins, The Blue Lagoon still seems aimed at the under-18 crowd, and therein lies a danger. Once again young people, who are already subjected to uncounted enticements to early sexual activity, are presented with perhaps the ultimate in idyllic sexual images. But two very attractive adolescents making love under a palm tree, in a tidal pool, in a cave, etc. etc. do not necessarily strongly conform to reality. 

True, the girl in the film does become pregnant, but the pregnancy is depicted merely as a curiosity, and the major concern of parenthood seems simply that of preventing the tyke from eating poison berries.

As the two young lovers, Shields and Atkins are visually appealing, but both seem more intent on soaking up rays on the beach the giving actual performances. Fourteen-year-old Shields has the physical attributes of someone ten years older, but her acting is still somewhere this side of Annette Funicello. 

Atkins has one of the film’s few good moments as he prays for the girl to recover from her poison fish bite. Struggling to recall words he was taught as a little boy, he fervently prays, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…Thy Kingdom come…with liberty and justice for all.”

Aside from some brilliant underwater photography by Ron and Valerie Taylor, Basil Poledouris’ fine musical score performed by the Australian Symphonic Orchestra and the beautiful Fiji Islands locations, there is not much to recommend The Blue Lagoon. When a boat finally comes to bring the island family back to civilization the audience feels it too, has been rescued; not from that gorgeous island but from this hopelessly deserted movie. 

Published by

Bill Newcott

Award-Winning Film Critic, Columnist, TV Host and Creator of AARP's Movies For Grownups, Bill writes for publications including National Geographic, The Saturday Evening Post, Delaware Beach Life, Alaska Beyond and Northwest Travel.

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