Release Date: March 30, 1984
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Michael Douglas; Kathleen Turner; Danny DeVito; Alfonso Arau; Zack Norman
Another faaaaaaaantastic movie!
They just don’t make movies like this anymore…a good old-fashioned, 80’s action adventure pic. “Romancing the Stone” is a super-fun ride which leaves the audience smiling and, if you’re like me having seen this in the theater, nostalgic for a simpler, younger time.
The plot is simple…romance novelist, Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), inadvertently gets sucked into a real-life version of one of her Harlequin novels when her sister is kidnapped in Colombia and she must come to the rescue. Along the way she meets her knight in not-so-shining armor, Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), and the two of them conjure up adventure in the search for the elusive stone. That’s essentially it. Of course, there are the bad guys on their tail, colorful characters they meet along the way, and, naturally, the growing romantic attraction between the two that only dangerous expeditions through the jungle can beget.
While the peripheral characters are fun, particularly Alfonso Arau as a Colombian drug lord who just happens to be one of Joan’s biggest fans, it’s the chemistry between the two leads that provides most of this movie’s pleasure. Like Hepburn and Tracy before them or Roberts and Gere after, Turner and Douglas are clearly enjoying each other’s company and their good time permeates the screen. Audiences at he time obviously thought so too, as this movie was one of 1984’s biggest hits and spawned a (far inferior) sequel, “The Jewel of the Nile.” Turner and Douglas even reunited for 1989’s “The War of the Roses,” which was directed by and co-starred their RTS co-star, Danny DeVito. Very seldom does a film bring together three actors who gel so beautifully that the audience simply enjoys being in their company and feels as though they’ve been a fly-on-the-wall at a great party. This is one of the reasons that I love movies…watching good actors who are having a good time and bring the audience along with them. Pure joy.
This was one of Robert Zemeckis’s first directorial efforts. He, of course, went on to direct the enormously successful “Back to the Future” series, as well as (one of my personal favorites), “Death Becomes Her.” Zemeckis is also one of the earliest proponents of motion-capture technology, a technique that has seen increasing popularity in recent films. Here, he displays a confident handle on directing and keeps the action moving swiftly along to the predictable finish. It’s easy to see why he has become such a successful director.
“Romancing the Stone” is, clearly, very 80’s, but doesn’t shove it down our throats with outrageous fashion and tons of synthesized music (though Alan Silvestri’s score certainly has its share). Simply put, it is a fun time at the movies!