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USA 1984
Directed by
Robert Zemeckis
105 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2 stars

Romancing The Stone

Robert Zemeckis’s adventure/romance/comedy was a surprise hit in its day (after disappointing test screenings Zemeckis extensively re-edited the film and incorporated newly-shot footage) but as that day was in the mid-‘80s it is not entirely surprising that it is an inane affair.  

Kathleen Turner plays a mousy New York writer of schlocky adventure romances who finds herself amidst a real-life adventure in the Colombian jungle in order to save her sister who will be killed if a treasure map is not delivered to her captors. She is helped out by a handsome but penniless bird poacher (Michael Douglas).

You can virtually hear the Saturday night audience roar with laughter on-cue at the film’s biggest joke when  Douglas and Turner are swept off their feet by a mudslide and he ends up face down in her crotch. That is about as witty as the film gets as it follows the bantering couple through a series of mishaps pursued by swarthy Latin villains before arriving at the inevitable resolution. Douglas and Turner make a fair fist of the familiar Gable and Colbert battle of the sexes thing and Danny DeVito provides an intermittent dose of humour as a chronically unsuccessful would-be kidnapper but the bulk of the film is routine stuff that in the constant ogling of Turner's physique looks a lot less credible than it would have at the time of its release (the film opens with a spoof of a leering old school Western that it subsequently pretty much endorses).

Somewhat surprisingly it was critically endorsed as a jaunty romp in the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1981) spirit but Romancing The Stone has none of that film’s tongue-in-cheek retro style or wit (the script was by Diane Thomas who died shortly after the film’s release and was apparently written well before Speilberg's film) as Zemeckis strings together a lot of tried-and-true physical gags including a couple of very long but not very good chase sequences.

FYI: There was a big budget more-of-the-same1985 sequel, The Jewel Of The Nile, which starred Douglas,Turner and DeVito but was directed by Lewis Teague that was even more awful. Douglas,Turner and DeVito re-teamed to much better effect for the DeVito-directed The War Of The Roses in 1989. 




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