I Saw A Film!
Going back the 35 years to this little franchise that put Douglas and Turner together for a kind of fantasy adventure/romance reveals a surprise in that these leads don’t look particularly baby-faced, which, somehow, adds gravity to the wholesale silliness of the adventure romance. This is a sequel, following up Romancing the Stone which was a much more serious film in terms of it being about South American drug market powers, kidnapping and overcoming these perils through the fact that Turner happened to be a beloved romance novelist. This film relaunches the romance in a much more fantasy based world meant to celebrate the exotic realm of North Africa, but sadly just winds up using the stereotypes and setting for jokes by Danny Devito’s character. I suppose the opening moments of the film–a bit of staged silliness from one of Turner’s Wilder’s novels lets you know the game is going to be played under looser rules.
This isn’t unusual in film, but it seems like the 80s were on a roll with exotic locales exploited for the worst of lame American fantasies, almost always money-grubbing and treasure hunting. There was never a Rambo film where he went off to protect elephants from poaching. No one built a story around alleviating the poverty rampant in South American regions. There was the Emerald Forest that focused on the loss of rainforest and indigenous people which was an attempt, but most of the time we were inundated with Indiana Jones versions of mythology mixed with archeology, Quartermain with Chamberlain and Sharon Stone that so insulted with their search for a lost white race it is hard to watch (may have to go after that one).
When Chumbawumba criticized the music industry’s weakness on apartheid on their Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records, I was astonished by these facts none of us talked about. Each generation feels itself more enlightened, of course. It’s easy to punish our predecessors for being so empty-headed and careless. But it’s also important, I think, to remember that people have always been operating under other forces. Science, tech, arts and social justice come out of relative wealth. These things are results of a world in which our immediate needs are met. Which is why it is important to not spread your disease. And why it’s important to remember that certain things aren’t really questions with two sides that need to be explored to be taken as fair reporting. Things such as, equality and justice for all are not questions. There isn’t a flipside to the question of whether or not women belong in the workplace.
All this aside, and it’s a big bolus to swallow these fantasy films using colors and implied nations, and evil made-up villains whose horrible politics and social standing is undermined by our protagonists getting their hands on a Mig jet and shooting everything in sight, makes a silly movie. When the villain strings up our heroes in a Batmanesque death trap with acid dripping on ropes but giving plenty of time for a rescue, we’re left feeling much like children expecting the goodness of our White Western righteousness to prevail. While Devito calls the North Africans Towel-heads, and while Douglas wrestles a Nubian for Turner’s hand in marriage. You can only imagine Turner dangling from moving trains or cliffs and surviving by her impressive arm strength so many times.
The ” jewel of the nile ” is actually a very westernized comic holyman who somehow fulfills the sweetness of human spirit and need by doing basically nothing but helping our unnecessary Treasure-hunting protagonists.
Free on prime. Just the Billy Ocean music is so embedded in the era you can’t help but feel the time-capsule aspect of this thing.