1984’s Romancing The Stone is perhaps as rare an entity as the eponymous gemstone around which much of the movie is centred. Very much a film of its time in some respects (soundtrack being the most obvious), it’s timeless in others, combining a classic adventure story with many of the elements that form the basis of a good rom-com. The action is non-stop, there are some pretty cool stunts on display and a genuine sense of jeopardy throughout. At the same time it manages to be genuinely funny – a young Danny Devito probably deserves the most plaudits for the comedy within the film but there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments when he is nowhere to be seen. The romance too, is definitely a central theme – protagonist and romance novelist Jane Wilder (Kathleen Turner) seems to find herself living out the plot of one of her own novels, as she forms an unlikely relationship with the seemingly unscrupulous but dashing Jack Colton (Michael Douglas). One of Robert Zemeckis’ earliest directorial outings, Romancing The Stone was a fair indication of the success he would go on to have, indeed his next project was a little known movie called Back to The Future. Unfortunately Zemeckis did not direct the sequel, and The Jewel Of the Nile (which admittedly is still a movie I’m reasonably fond of) was nowhere near as good and effectively killed what could have been a promising franchise.
Turner, Douglas and DeVito all do what they do very well in Romancing The Stone, and to be fair, none of them can be blamed for the inferior sequel.
But it’s a shame that the follow-up couldn’t live up to the original, because there really isn’t much out there that compares to it – a movie which attempts to combine a range of apparently conflicting genres and actually has the audacity to succeed. A rare thing indeed.