a critiQal film review Romancing the Stone (1984)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Uptight romance novelist Joan (Turner) receives a mysterious map from her murdered brother-in-law, only to discover it's the ransom when her sister is kidnapped in Colombia. Out to rescue her sister, she's helped and hindered by American soldier of fortune Jack (Douglas), whose main concern is himself and the hidden treasure described in the map.

479 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 23s)

While perusing our NetFlix® instant queue, we decided to go back and visit a romantic comedy adventure: Romancing the Stone. Having seen this years ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would the adventure part stand up to the inevitable cheesy romance? Or have my memories of Romancing the Stone managed to overlook the flaws with the passage of time?

Michael Douglas recently has traveled back to the 80’s himself, reprising his role as Gordon Gecko in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010). He’s a good fit in Romancing the Stone. While his co-star, Kathleen Turner, isn’t exactly a household name these days, viewers can see why Michael Douglas is still acting after his performance in this film. Despite the inevitable cheesy lines he delivers, he manages to make his character entertaining, and boosts Turner’s performance with his exuberance.

Kathleen Turner, on the other hand, has never been very popular in our household, thanks to her mainly ho-hum performances. While she manages to get viewers to her meeting with Douglas without losing them, the viewer can feel their attention slipping a bit. Once she teams up with Douglas, however, she manages to get more involved with her character, creating a decent foil for Douglas. The two of them make an odd but entertaining couple, and their chemistry together (mostly expressed by Douglas, aside from a never-ending longing glance from Turner) helps keep the viewer tuned in.

Danny DeVito, as a bumbling criminal henchman, is somewhat ill-used, but his bumbler is still fun to watch. The rest of the cast is largely forgettable, as their acting is merely a representation of the cardboard nature of their characters. The exception to this is Alfonso Arau, who plays a drug dealer who also happens to be Joan Wilder’s biggest fan. His glee over meeting the romance novelist brings a large dose of witticism to the film. The viewer can’t help but laugh with him as he bounces his “Little Mule” over a rough estimation of a back road.

The action is decent, and helps the film play out as an adventure. Whether the characters are fleeing from gun-toting thugs or sliding down a mountain amid a mudslide, there’s always a sense of excitement, rather than danger, about their predicament. Never is the viewer worried the characters won’t make it through in one piece. Instead, it’s more of an amusement ride – full of fun, a bit dangerous, but basically worry-free.

This light-hearted adventurism carries throughout the whole film, making this reclusive romance novelist’s crazy road trip fun to watch time and again. Douglas’ exuberance and his on-screen chemistry with Turner helps Kathleen to keep pace. These two plow through their cardboard cut-out villains with an adventurous glee, making the film entertaining for both guys and gals.

Bring the popcorn, sit back, smile and enjoy Romancing the Stone for the light-hearted bit of movie fluff it is.

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