Saturday, March 31, 2012

Romancing the Stone and The Jewel of the Nile

Romancing the Stone
Romancing the Stone was directed by Robert Zemeckis. Besides his big blockbusters (Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and recent CGI stuff like Beowulf, he made some fun little movies back in the day like this one and Death Becomes Her.
The story is about romance novelist Joan Wilder (played by Kathleen Turner) who goes to Columbia to pay a ransom to save her kidnapped sister. Wilderis resourceful, brave, and smart, just out of her element. Wilder is not an annoying damsel in distress like Willie Scott from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. There is a nice piece of dramatic irony about Wilder as she is a writer of romance-adventure writer book who in reality leads a lonely boring life. Of course this changes when she has her own journey and adventure to go on. Along the way Joan Wilder meets up with Jack T. Colton (played by Michael Douglas). Colton is a rogue mercenary although he's more like Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China than Indiana Jones.
Romancing the Stone drew a lot of comparisons to the Indiana Jones movies which I think was merely because Temple of Doom came out the same year. Even though both are adventure movies, Romancing the Stone takes place in the present, has no supernatural elements, and puts more of an emphasis on romance.
Danny Devito and Alfonso Arau (El Guapo from Three Amigos) both have supporting roles that are a lot of fun.
Romancing the Stone was nominated for an Oscar for best Film Editing. Although it only had a $10 million budget and the studio thought it would fail, it was a commercial hit ($76 million in the US and 8th best grossing movie of the year) and well received by critics.
Overall Romancing the Stone was a fun adventure movie although nothing special. I just wish it had a different title. The title makes sense in the context of the film but I feel like it doesn't really fit since although there is a romantic sub-plot its more about finding the stone and rescuing Joan's sister.

The Jewel of the Nile
If a movie has one sequel and I liked the first then I will usually watch the next one just for completion's sake. The one exception is if the sequel is supposed to be really bad like Caddyshack II for instance. While The Jewel of the Nile is not as good as its predecessor, it's not awful and is actually a little funnier than the original. Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, and Danny DeVito all return but this time most of the action takes place in Africa. Stage performer Avner Eisenberg made his film debut in this movie and does a great job, especially since his character is quite different than the others.
The title of this movie is actually pretty clever as the jewel is not what it seems to be.
There is filler as the run-time is 106 minutes and about 15 minutes could've easily been cut. The Jewel of the Nile was only made to quickly cash-in on the surprise success of the first movie as Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas were contractually obligated to be in sequel. All things considered it could have been a lot worse and those who liked Romancing the Stone will probably still enjoy this one.

Next Up: Several wrap-up posts featuring a variety of movies


  1. Just watched these again last year. They used to be a staple of my childhood. The original holds up well but the sequel is too contrived. I like that they got back DeVito but the arab setting doesn't have the same wonder of the South American original.

  2. Yeah the sequel was only made to fulfill contract obligations and it really shows. Apparently Kathleen Turner really didn't want to make it but was threatened with a lawsuit by the studio. I only recommend the first one unless you are a completist like myself!