Produced by: Garry Marshall and Edward K. Milkis
Directed by: Garry Marshall
Screenplay by: Deborah Amelon and Bob Brunner
Genre: Comedy, Erotica - BDSM
Country of Production: United States
Released: October 14, 1994
Elliot Slater (Paul Mercurio) is a young photographer from Australia who is living in southern California. He is conflicted about his sexuality, having fantasies about being dominated but not feeling comfortable about it. He decides to visit an exclusive island off the coast of Mexico called Eden, which specializes in catering to BDSM fantasies, as a way to try to come to terms with his feelings.
Before leaving for Eden, he inadvertently takes a picture of Omar (Stuart Wilson), an international jewel thief, of which no picture had ever previously been taken. This leads he and his partner-in-crime, Nina Blackstone (Iman), to chase after him in order to recover and destroy the film that contains his picture. They follow him to Eden, posing as tourists.
The police are hot on the trail of Omar and Nina. Acting on a tip that they had traveled to Eden, detectives Fred Lavery (Dan Aykroyd) and Sheila Kingston (Rosie O’Donnell) go undercover and track them to Eden, posing as a handyman and guest, respectively.
Eden is presided over by Mistress Lisa Emerson (Dana Delany). Those who come to the island on vacation are either guests (dominants), who arrive by chartered plane, or citizens (submissives), who arrive by boat. While there, they are encouraged to live out their respective fantasies. Mistress Lisa takes an immediate liking to Elliot and adopts him, choosing to “train” him personally. In doing so, she begins to develop feelings for him, which he also feels. This makes her uncomfortable, and she tries to get him to leave Eden. He turns it around by convincing her to go to New Orleans with him for a fun weekend.
In New Orleans, spending more time together allows their feelings for each other to grow. In the meantime, Omar and Nina follow them there, once again trying to get the film. In turn, Fred and Sheila also go there, hot on the trail of the thieves. Omar and Nina eventually catch up to Elliot and Mistress Lisa, and they try to kill him. Fred and Sheila show up in the nick of time and arrest the thieves, saving the day.
Back at Eden, Mistress Lisa finds a surprise waiting for her. She finds Elliot, who had been tied up by her assistant Diana (Stephanie Niznik), standing before her with his arms outstretched. He proposes to her, and she accepts.
Exit to Eden is primarily intended to be a glimpse into the world of BDSM. The subplot involving the jewel thieves and undercover cops was added specifically for the film, as it was not a part of the original Anne Rice novel upon which it is based. Not having read the book, I cannot compare, but I think it serves to flesh out the film, adding another dimension to it and possibly serving as a catalyst for the developing feelings of love between the two main characters.
I am not overly familiar with the BDSM community. However, even with my general knowledge, it seems to me that the portrayal in this film has been somewhat sanitized. Mistress Lisa seems to be too “nice” to be running a dungeon, let alone a whole island devoted to the lifestyle. I would expect such a person to be more aloof, with fewer smiles and more looks of disinterest, or even disdain, on her face.
On one occasion, I did meet a professional dominatrix, and she was actually pretty congenial and pleasant. However, it was in a public setting, where she was not “in character,” so this cannot be characterized as an accurate representation of what such a person would be like when “working.”
Dan Aykroyd and Rose O’Donnell were hilarious in their roles as undercover detectives. Fred is a straight-laced, no-nonsense cop, while Sheila is more expressive. Rosie is funny as hell and brilliant in her performance, as Sheila loves to get under Fred’s skin by making sexual comments (“I’m ovulating!") Rosie O’Donnell annoys the hell out of me when she rants and raves against conservatives and Republicans, such as the time she took Tom Selleck to task on her television talk show because he belongs to the National Rifle Association. However, there is no denying the fact that she is a talented comedienne.
If you are looking for a more accurate portrayal of the BDSM lifestyle, you might be better off watching Fifty Shades of Grey. However, taken on its own terms, Exit to Eden is a lot of fun. It is certainly different from your standard romantic comedy because of the BDSM element; without this, it would be just another easily forgettable film.
Rosie O’Donnell was awarded the Golden Raspberry award for worst supporting actress for her role. Dan Aykroyd was nominated for worst supporting actor, and both were nominated for worst screen couple. In addition, the film was banned in Saskatchewan (albeit for only the first week of its release). The Skinner Zone is pleased to add to this list of accomplishments by proudly awarding Exit to Eden an Ed Wood Oscar.
Dana Delany may have been badly miscast as Mistress Lisa, but there is no denying that she is a total babe. Whether she is dressed up in fetish wear for her role in running Eden or whether she wears normal clothing, she is always dressed to kill. Miscasting aside, all I can say is that, if I was ever going to be tied up, I would rather it be by someone like Dana Delany as Mistress Lisa than by some bitch wearing a military or police uniform and barking at me in German.
Iman, in her role as the international jewel thief Nina Blackstone, comes off as deliciously wicked and sexy. In fact, she has never looked better than she did in this role. The outfits she wore in her disguise as a dominatrix visiting Eden were stunning; if anything, they outdid the ones worn by Mistress Lisa. With the arrogance and haughty demeanor that she brought to her role, Iman would have been an excellent choice to play Mistress Lisa.