Sunday, April 15, 2012

Romancing the Stone

Romancing the Stone; adventure comedy, USA, 1984; D: Robert Zemeckis, S: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito, Zack Norman

The lonely and unsightly New York adventure romance novel author Joan Wilder receives a map from Colombia, sent by the murdered husband of her sister Elaine. Joan is contacted by thugs Ira and Ralph who have kidnapped Elaine and want to exchange her for the map. Travelling to Colombia, Joan boards a wrong bus and hires the adventurer Jack as her guide. With his help, she finds the green jewel indicted on the map and manages to rescue Elaine.

There is no explanation that in 1984, the year where "Ghostbusters" and "Beverly Hills Cop" were up for the award, the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy went to a mess of a film, "Romancing the Stone", a clumsy patchwork assembled out of chunks of Indiana Jones: the story starts off nicely, foreshadowing how adventure novel author Joan Wilder will herself experience an adventure in person, but after 15 minutes it turns out that the movie simply has too little to show. Unlike "Crocodile Dundee", whose charm, humor and wit can still effect the viewers in a cohesive way, "Stone" lost almost all of its charm a long time ago. While the actors are fine, they struggle trying to persuade us into humor and emotions they don't believe themselves, whereas the screenplay - despite showing some good feminist details - fails while revolving around primitive, backward cliches or ideas (a 10 year old kid throws a net around Elaine's neck and thus kidnaps her in her car (!); the infamous sequence where a crocodile bites off the hand of one of the bad guys) or illogical situations (Ralph brings Joan and Jack back to his car. Then he suddenly runs away - on foot - when he spots the gangsters approaching with their vehicles over the horizon. Wouldn't it make far more sense if he simply decided to run away in his car?!). A disproportionate realization of the storyline, yet small crumbs of pleasure are Danny DeVito's comic performance as Ralph and some plot solutions (i.e. when Joan's fan in Colombia brings her and Jack for a sight seeing tour, they accidentally stumble upon the landmark on a hill indicated on the map showing the green jewel).


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