Thoughts on Romancing the Stone (1984)

Romancing coverI’ve seen Romancing the Stone at least ten times by now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write a semi-review about it! It’s actually just some thoughts I had while watching it on Sunday, and so there’s some spoilers for the movie here. If you haven’t seen the movie already you may want to proceed gingerly; but it’s an awesome movie so you should definitely see it ASAP.

I first saw Romancing the Stone because my mom TRICKED me into watching it when I was, what, twelve? And it’s been one of my favorite movies since. I love the action-adventure bits best, though Kathleen Turner is a close second and everything else comes after. The romance? Eh. Not as fun as the other stuff (sorry, but I can barely stand Michael Douglas). Anyway, it’s basically like a really fun romance novel in live-action format, including the scantily-clad heroine and buff manly-man hero who trade insults and, of course, end up falling in love with each other while growing into new, better people. Oh, and there are villains in snazzy uniforms, drug dealers with big trucks, Danny DeVito, man-eating crocodiles, shoot-offs, jungle excursions, dancing, and lots of humor. Yay!

Romancing stereotypesProbably the best thing I like about Romancing the Stone is that it doesn’t treat romance novelists as stupid, vapid women who spend all their time eating bonbons and fluffing their feather boas. Sure, Joan is a bit naive and she does some pretty stupid things for a New Yorker (like believing the obviously sleazy Zolo when he told her another bus was coming and it wasn’t– then he tried to rob her), but she’s an intelligent woman who is incredibly brave and loves adventure (and, yeah, romance). I love too that at the end of the movie she still writes romance books instead of moving on to literary fiction, or something. These sort of things give romance books (and readers), a kind of validation while simultaneously throwing out the sad-neurotic-cat-lady myth that romance readers are encumbered by.

I also really love how the visuals match up with the characters’ emotional states. Take Joan, for instance. At the beginning of the movie she’s high-strung and, okay, kind of neurotic. She wears her hair up in a high, tight bun and her face looks pale and wan. When she meets Jack and properly starts on her journey of self-enlightenment, her hair slowly starts falling down. She still looks kind of pale and ill, but she’s got a rather snappy ponytail. And then when they get to the drug dealer’s village, after their mad run from the soldiers, her hair is completely down, curly and loose, and her face has finally got some color to it. And what do you know: she’s also gotten more self-confidant, happy, and even a bit more grown up.

Romancing big gunThere are lots of little things like that in Romancing the Stone, and trying to find them makes watching the movie even more fun. Plus the story is just an excellent thing as well: it’s exciting and romantic and funny, even with Michael Douglas as the leading man. Plus I love Kathleen Turner (and her awesome bag).

I wish Romancing the Stone was a book. I’d keep it forever and reread it each year o and it’d be wonderful. (We have a copy of the movie on VHS and I’ve totally hugged it to my chest like some 1980’s teen movie heroine.) I don’t really like the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile, but I haven’t seen it in a while so I can’t really remember why.

This one, though? Pure awesomeness.

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0 thoughts on “Thoughts on Romancing the Stone (1984)”

  1. My dad loves this movie. Whenever it’s on, he’s like, “Oooh, Romancing the Stone! That’s a good movie!” It is a really good movie, though. I also wish it was a book. I wish the book Kathleen Turner writes at the beginning of the movie was an actual book so I could read it. 🙂

    As for not portraying romance writers as vapid, it doesn’t. But it does portray them as lonely, uptight, undersexed cat women with a rich fantasy life and a fear complex. So even though I love Turner’s character (not because she reminds me of myself or anything. Ummmm <.<), I don't think romance novelists are necessarily shown in a positive light.

    1. As for not portraying romance writers as vapid, it doesn’t. But it does portray them as lonely, uptight, undersexed cat women with a rich fantasy life and a fear complex.
      lol, that’s true. 😀 But she’s changed so much at the end that surely it makes up for the beginning? Maybe?

  2. Actually, you’ll be pleased to know there is a book. It was written in conjunction with the filming of the movie, and is just as good. I know this because I read (and reread it!) when I was younger, and I’ve just today, as I rewatch the movie, thought that it’d be good to get hold of another copy, so I looked it up (which is why I’ve come across this blog a month late!). I’ve only known for about five minutes that the movie wasn’t based on it!
    Anyway, you can buy copies written by ‘Joan Wilder’, but actually it’s Catherine Lanigan, and very much worth getting hold of.

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