US Release Date: 12-11-1985
Directed by: Lewis Teague
- Michael Douglas, as
- Jack Colton
- Kathleen Turner, as
- Joan Wilder
- Danny DeVito, as
- Spiros Focas, as
- Avner Eisenberg, as
- Paul David Magid, as
- Hamid Fillali, as
- Holland Taylor as
Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner
After the success of Romancing the Stone, a sequel was a no brainer. Kathleen Turner had become the sex symbol of the moment, and the offers rolled in for her. Although The Jewel of Nile was released just a year later, she had completed three films in between. Douglas on the other hand, did none. He, along with his brother Joel, are the producers on Jewel.
Jack and Joan found love in South America, but now they must learn to maintain it. As the film opens they are on their boat, The Angelina, moored off the coast of southern France. Joan has writers block, while Jack seems to be living his dream. They have traveled all over the world, but Joan is still missing something, a commitment.
Jack and Joan part ways. Joan is off to Africa to write a dictators biography, while Jack runs into an old friend, Ralph. DeVito is given more to do this time around and provides the films laughs, "You're all I thought about for six months. They threw me in a jail filled with rejects from the communicable disease ward. Every wacko, drippy, open-sored low-life was in that joint, all of them wanting to hire on as my proctologist." He even has this politically incorrect line, "Yeah, and I'm a kumquat from Queens! Pipe down, towel-head!"
When Jack and Ralph hear about the jewel of the Nile, they head after Joan to Africa. They meet up with some boom box carrying, disco loving, camel riding nomads. Joan finds the jewel and escapes from the dictator. She reunites with Jack, and they steal a jet plane, that they drive out into the desert with a holy man.
They argue, get chased, shot at, get into fights, jump a train and eventually make love. Douglas and Turner have more chemistry than Obama has secrets. Turner never looked better and Douglas had clearly been hitting the gym.
The pacing and fun is still here, but it takes an odd turn. Although a flight of fancy, Romancing the Stone was grounded in reality. Jewel introduces a character who can do magic. He changes a stone into a butterfly and is impervious to fire. He is supposed to be a great uniter. They should have had him do it without the use of the supernatural.
The Jewel of the Nile is not the classic that Romancing the Stone is, but it is definitely worth the watch! It takes the love story to the next level. They should have done a third one where they have kids who cannot believe their parents ever did anything exciting, until one day....
Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner and Danny DeVito reunite in the disappointing Jewel of the Nile.
From the opening scene where Joan is writing her latest novel, where she and Jack get married on a ship that gets attacked by pirates, to the final scene of the real Joan and Jack getting married, The Jewel of the Nile lacks the charm of its predecessor. Its biggest problem is that they shouldn’t have made a sequel in the first place. Like The African Queen, Romancing the Stone should have stood alone as a classic romantic adventure/comedy. After all there is nowhere to go but downhill after, “…and they lived happily ever after.”
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the first movie was watching Joan and Jack get to know each other and fall in love. This movie contrives some relationship conflict that feels forced. Sure Turner and Douglas maintain their chemistry together but the dialogue doesn’t ring true between them. Their best moment together is when Joan slips down from the roof of a building, falls on Jack and they begin rolling on the ground while kissing passionately (seconds before photo above).
Another thing missing here, which the first movie had, is a sense of timelessness. This one is definitely a product of the 1980s. As Eric wrote there are boom boxes featured prominently in one scene and in another way-over-the-top sequence Joan and Jack drive an F-16 Fighter plane.
Eric mentioned the political incorrectness of some of DeVito’s dialogue. At one point he says to Douglas, “Look at these guys, Colton. No sheep is safe tonight.” This movie is filled with negative stereotypes of Arabs. I realize that in Romancing the Stone there were some pretty broad caricatures of Columbians on display but nothing compared to the insulting portrayal of Arabs here. I cringed every time Jewel called Turner’s character “Just Joan”.
And there is also a scene (straight out of an old Hope/Crosby Road picture) where Douglas must wrestle a huge black African tribe member (whom the movie refers to as Nubians) for the hand of Turner.
There are a few chuckle-worthy lines. I laughed when Joan tells the dictator Omar that she is going to write the truth about him and he replies, “The truth? If I wanted the truth, I would have hired 60 Minutes.” And there is a humorous exchange between Joan and Jewel when they are imprisoned together and Joan begins trying to dig her way through the cell wall. It goes like this…
Jewel: “What are you doing?”
Joan Wilder: “In my last novel, 'Angelina and the Savage Secret' Angelina used a nail file to chip away at the bars of her cell to remove them and escape to freedom.”
Jewel: “How long did this take?”
Joan Wilder: “Two pages.”
The Jewel of the Nile runs about the same amount of time as Romancing the Stone but the ending seems to take forever to arrive. The talents of Robert Zemeckis are sorely missed in this disappointing sequel to a wonderful movie.
Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Jewel of the Nile.
Apparently Patrick, Kathleen Turner agreed with you about the sequel idea. It was only because the studio threatened to sue her for breach of contract that she appeared in this one at all. It's also reported that Michael Douglas wasn't too keen on the idea either, but as you say Eric, it's not as though he had much of a film career at that time beyond this franchise. I actually think there was room for a sequel to Romancing the Stone, but was this seriously the best they could come up with? If they were going to do one, maybe they should have taken a little longer than year to throw it together.
I do agree with you Patrick that this movie screams the 1980s. The original movie has a classic style about it, but this one could really have been made in no other decade than the one it was made in. And while I'm a fan of the 1980s, I don't mean that as a compliment here.
There is quite a lot of politically incorrect humor and those are the bits that I laughed hardest at. The sheep line you mention Patrick was probably the funniest line in the whole movie. The Jewel's use of "Just Joan" was an example of how odd the character was. He has the magical powers Eric mentions, but he's also kind of a buffoon. I'm not sure he'll do any better a job leading his country than the dictator will. Maybe they should try a democratic election to chose their leader?
The chemistry between Douglas and Turner is the best thing about the movie. They still make a believable couple. I thought the dialogue they shared rang very true. It's only the other stuff going on around them that doesn't work. You know, little things, like the plot, for example. It's only Joan and Jack's moments together that kept my interest at all. When they're dangling above the open pit possibly going to die, they share a nice moment. Sure, it's a completely implausible method for Omar to kill them, but ignoring that, it's a nice moment.
With the right script, I would have been willing to see a sequel to this movie. I think there was life left in the franchise, but it would have needed more care and attention than was put into this one, which feels like what is; a quickly thrown together sequel made simply to cash in on the original.
Photos © Copyright Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation (1985)