DIRECTOR: Robert Zemekis
May Contain Spoilers!
In 1987, I was nine years old and my mum went to the video shop and came back with Romancing The Stone. It was kind of like Indiana Jones, a style which was all the rage back in the 80’s, only with Kirk Douglas’ son in the lead, “solider of fortune” role.
How does it stand up 25 years later? Not bad. Nothing like as well as its clear inspiration, Indiana Jones, but it’ll do. The problem with this, it that it’s rated 15 for one (re-rated as 12 now), a rating which SHOULD have placed it out of sight of youngsters, the key demographic for such a film, surly? But no, it’s aimed at women and clearly, cynically aimed at bored housewives, which our mousey heroine pretty much is.
Not a wife of course, but Kathleen Turner is a meek and timid thirty something romance novelist who has an irrational need to meet the man of her dreams, who she writes about in every book, and for him to sweep her of her feet and take her on some high adventure. What’s wrong with that? Well, nothing to a self-employed woman who’s has an intellectual job who wants to use that power and position to set the feminist movement back 50 years!
I mean, as a kid who doesn’t fully understand the subtly of what’s going on here, its’ fine, but as a 34-year-old man, it just CREEPY!! Run Douglas, RUN! To quote a later Robert Zemekis work. (Well, sort of…) Then, there’s the setting. Columbia was a great setting for Clear And Present Danger (1994), or parts of Scarface (1983), where you’re looking into the dark and horrific underworld of drug cartels, but the setting for an action adventure Boys Own or Barbara Cartland romance?
It’s raining, it’s corrupt and its damn right scary! Then there’s the bit when our couple hang out, smoking pot in a wreckage of a drug smuggling plane… Hmmmmm…
Don’t get me wrong, Zemekis, who has directed some of my favourite films, including Contact (1997) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), handles his material quite well, in the sense that what’s there is solid and Turner and Douglas make a good couple, as was seen again in the appalling sequel (Jewel Of The Nile (1986), not a good example, and the like it or not, War Of The Roses (1990). It’s not cheap, it has a sense of humour, but one that has dated I’m afraid, and the action is well put together. But when you take the setting of such a politically sensitive country and just play about in it for a bit, mucking around with murderous secret police and drug barons, it just seems to be a bit tasteless to be honest. But a product if it’s time, no doubt.
I didn’t like the ending of this film. In short, the stone of the title ends up in a crocodile and Douglas is left wrestling it, but is forced to let it go in order to save her girlfriend, Turner. Afterwards, we’re supposed to believe that he manages to locate the croc in open water and recover the titular stone. This is just ludicrous and pushes the boundaries of believability, or the suspicion of disbelief to extremes.
Overall, if you liked it the first time, then revisit it but if you haven’t seen it, I wouldn’t bother. There’s a 95% chance that you either hate it or mistake it for a flat comedy. Shame, because as a child, I did quite like it. As an adult, I question the sanity of our leading lady…