Romancing The Stone

Romancing The Stone

***1/2

Reviewed by: Stephen Carty

Sometimes, movies just work. Take for example, Romancing The Stone. A re-visit proves that Robert Zemeckis' 1984 romantic-adventure remains as likeable as ever. Many will still lazily dismiss it as an Indianna Jones knock-off, but Zemeckis' pre-Back To The Future breakout feature has enough invention, fun and witty banter to remain memorable in its own right.

After mysteriously receiving a treasure map, mousy romance novelist Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is called to South America to exchange it for her sister's life. Ambushed in a Colombian jungle and way out of her depth, Joan is rescued by fortune hunter Jack T Colton (Michael Douglas), who reluctantly agrees to help while following the map to a priceless stone.

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Of course, coming three years after the world-conquering Raiders Of The Lost Ark, means comparisons are inevitable. But yet, while the mud-sliding, river-riding, bandit-escaping and wall-scaling can't help but remind you of the world's most famous fedora-wearer, the script by Diane Thomas' (a Malibu waitress, who died shortly after release) was actually written five years earlier. So there.

Issues of originality aside, Romancing ultimately succeeds thanks to the natural on-screen chemistry between Douglas and Turner. Douglas is perfect as the Han Solo-ish loveable scoundrel and the fresh-faced Turner does a fine line in helpless romantic - but it's the duo's naturalistic verbal sparring that gives the movie its zing. Danny DeVito is also on decent form as kidnapper Ralph, all fast-talking, white suits and complaining.

Nit-pickers could complain that it's sometimes not altogether clear who's chasing Joan and why - Police? Army? Smugglers? All of the above? - but that's not really the point. They're bad guys, we know this. Plus, for anyone who complains the action is a bit lightweight and non-threatening, either point them to the more cartoony (yet, also fun) sequel or the demise of Manuel Ojeda's militant villain Zolo - who gets his hand bitten off before being stabbed, burned and eaten alive. A lighter Indiana Jones? Not so much, then...

A bit dry in places, but Romancing The Stone deserves its much-loved status.

Reviewed on: 24 Jul 2010
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Romancing The Stone packshot
Odd-couple romance and adventure in the jungle.
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Director: Robert Zemeckis

Writer: Diane Thomas, Lem Dobbs, Howard Franklin, Treva Silverman

Starring: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Zack Norman, Alfonso Arau, Manuel Ojeda, Holland Taylor, Mary Ellen Trainor, Eve Smith, Joe Nesnow, José Chávez, Evita Muñoz 'Chachita', Camillo García, Rodrigo Puebla, Paco Morayta

Year: 1984

Runtime: 106 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: Mexico, US

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If you like this, try:

The Mummy
Raiders Of The Lost Ark