Everyone loves a good adventure story, and books offer the perfect escape for all of us. Just sitting down and opening those pages allows us to enter the mystery, excitement, and a world that, for many of us, doesn’t exist. A weirdly titled movie named Romancing the Stone blends the elements of a writer thrown into a world that closely resembles her stories, only this time she doesn’t control the outcome of what happens! Released in 1984, Romancing the Stone can be considered a rip-off of Indiana Jones, but the story was first written in 1979 by the film’s screenwriter, Diane Thomas, making this her only screenplay sold and produced. Considering that The Lost City is right around the corner, Romancing the Stone is a movie that shares a similar idea, and it’s here that we are going to revisit this fun, enticing adventure movie from the mid-80s!
The movie focus on a romance novelist named Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner), who specializes in creating fantastical adventures that she wishes were true for herself. She lives in New York City and spends her time in front of her typewriter and comforting her cat. One day she receives a package from her sister’s husband but fails to open it in due time. After her apartment is trashed, she gets a phone call from her sister with a wild story. Her sister has been abducted, and her captors want the contents of the package sent to her. Joan’s sister is currently in Colombia and is far, far away from the jungles of New York City. She’s actually in a jungle and in danger even though her captors aren’t looking to harm her sister. They are more of a goofy villain type but aren’t genuinely sinister.
We learn that the contents of the package contain a map that could lead to a treasure. Joan has never traveled to Colombia and doesn’t know what to expect. Joan’s travels take her to the jungles of Colombia, and after a debacle that results in a bus crash, Joan is being targeted by a private army! She gets rescued by a bird smuggler whose truck was wrecked in the bus crash. His name is Jack T. Colton (Michael Douglas), and he agrees to help her find a telephone for a monetary fee. Together, these two will have an adventure of a lifetime that involves car chases, shootouts, riding off a waterfall, and maybe seeking what’s to be discovered on that treasure map to bargain with those pesky kidnappers.
Ira (Zack Norman) and Ralph (Danny DeVito) are the two kidnappers. They aren’t just partners in crime; they are also cousins! The man leading the charge in capturing the map and Joan Wilder is Colonel Zolo (Manuel Ojeda). He’s not involved in the kidnapping, but he’s vital to the story, which makes him a fun villain to watch. During the movie, these three characters will face off between Joan and Jack, resulting in pure entertainment and plenty of laughs along the way. The script isn’t as violent as, say, Indiana Jones, but the comedic elements are there, and the chemistry between Turner and Douglas is a match made in heaven. Norman and DeVito are also excellent together as the bumbling kidnappers.
Score 4 out of 5
Romancing the Stone works for several reasons, and despite a goofy title, it makes you remember the film for all its entertainment value. Thanks to a witty and exciting script from the late Diane Thomas (who tragically died in a car accident a year after this film’s release) and Robert Zemeckis’s energetic direction, Romancing the Stone is a wonderful addition to the action/adventure genre. The characters are memorable, the action is exciting, the locations are exotic, and you’ll be laughing most of the time. While many may downplay this movie in vain of Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone is one film not to overlook, and it’s undoubtedly a highlight in terms of the chemistry between Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas.