Jewel of the Nile parents guide

Jewel of the Nile Parent Guide

This is such a bad film it's hard to decide what to criticize first - the poor writing, lazy acting or unbelievable racism.

Overall D+

Having gone to Africa to write a biography, Joan is shocked to be involved in a violent power struggle. Her partner, Jack, winds up fighting alongside her as her searches for the Jewel of the Nile.

Release date December 11, 1985

Violence D+
Sexual Content C+
Profanity C
Substance Use C

Why is Jewel of the Nile rated PG? The MPAA rated Jewel of the Nile PG

Run Time: 106 minutes

Parent Movie Review

After their adventures in Romancing the Stone, Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) and Jack Colton (Michael Douglas) are fulfilling their dream of sailing around the world. But after six months, the thrill is gone for Joan and she’s throwing her typewriter in the Mediterranean in frustration with a bad case of writer’s block. Her enthusiasm only rebounds when she meets Omar Khalifa (Spyros Fokas), a charismatic Arab leader who flatters her into coming to Africa to write his biography. He tells her that he alone can “unite the tribes of the Nile” and will be declared Emperor in four days. Joan and Jack argue, and she leaves on her African adventure. A petulant Jack remains behind, until a reunion with former partner-in-crime Ralph (Danny DeVito) and a quest for the Jewel of the Nile leads Jack into danger with Joan.

The Jewel of the Nile is such a bad film it’s hard to decide which parts to criticize first. This movie is clearly inspired by the Indiana Jones series but while those blockbuster hits had intriguing scripts, tight pacing, and a charismatic leading man, The Jewel of the Nile is zero for three. The story is so bad, so full of plot holes, so tediously unoriginal that it feels like someone took the elements of the Indiana Jones movies, ran them through a shredder, and glued random strips onto a sheet of paper and called it a script. It’s also excruciatingly slow, with action scenes that drag on and on and on. Even the scene of Jack stealing an airplane and fighting his way through town with it fails to generate any excitement. Other action set pieces are so long and so predictable they only elicit yawns.

The acting in this movie is far worse than I expected given the cast. Kathleen Turner, in her defense, really seems to be putting in an effort. But Danny DeVito is just phoning it in, acting on autopilot as he plays the annoying short guy we’ve seen umpteen times before. As for Michael Douglas, who is capable of so much more, this role is a huge disappointment. Instead of being a charismatic, devil-may-care leading man, Jack is a self-absorbed, whiny man-child. The other characters are worse, with predictable roles that are made even more irksome by the terrible casting. I know this film was made in the mid-1980s, but having Arab roles played by white actors in bad makeup is cringingly uncomfortable. And the treatment of African extras is even worse, with men covered in body paint and women performing ritual dances completely topless. The racism isn’t covert: these stereotypical portrayals are exacerbated by racist language, including moments where Arabs are described as “jujubes” and “towel heads”. Throughout the entire movie, intrepid white characters must save ignorant, violent brown people, who are simply seen as props and not real people. And don’t get me started on the movie’s sexism – Joan is constantly being rescued by men.

If you’re looking for an action film that you can watch with your brain in the “off” position, The Jewel of the Nile might work for you. It is certainly easier to watch if you aren’t thinking. But if you’re considering it for family viewing, I should warn you that its PG rating is generous and a PG-13 rating would be more appropriate. There is almost non-stop violence in this movie, with so much gunfire that it sounds like the percussion to the movie’s soundtrack. And while other content isn’t excessive for a PG-13 action film, that doesn’t mean this movie is a gem. With so many good action movies to choose from, watching The Jewel of the Nile feels like choosing a ring out of the Cracker Jack box.

Directed by Lewis Teague. Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release December 11, 1985. Updated

Watch the trailer for Jewel of the Nile

Jewel of the Nile
Rating & Content Info

Why is Jewel of the Nile rated PG? Jewel of the Nile is rated PG by the MPAA

Violence: There are almost non-stop violent scenes involving fistfights or gunfire or both. Characters are threatened with guns. People are frequently shot at but no one is shown injured or bleeding. People are threatened or stabbed with knives on more than one occasion. There is a daydream scene involving pirates shooting firearms and having a sword fight. Men get kicked in the groin on a few occasions. A man is sat on by a horse. An angry woman throws a typewriter into the sea. A ship is blown up. Death threats are uttered on several occasions as are threats of harm. A woman falls through a roof; she is unharmed. A man taxis around a city in an airplane firing guns and rockets at tanks, helicopters, barrels of jet fuel, and city gates. The airplane’s wings damage buildings. Cars crash on a few occasions; no injuries are shown. A man knocks another unconscious by hitting him over the head with a pot. A man walks on hot coals. Men fight on a moving train; one falls off. A woman hangs on to the edge of a train. Characters are tied up with ropes and are hung by their wrists over a pit; they are told they will fall after rats bite through the ropes which have been soaked in blood. A man is chained to the wall. A man falls off a roof and lands in a fire.
Sexual Content: A man and woman kiss passionately on several occasions. Sex is implied in a scene shot from the shoulders up that shows passionate kissing in bed. A man jokes about being incarcerated with men who want to be his “proctologist”. A scene shows African women dancing topless in a ritual. A man catches a woman as she falls and the couple then roll around on the ground. A man mentions that he isn’t wearing underwear.
Profanity: There are almost a dozen scatological curses, one sexual expletive, five terms of deity and assorted crude anatomical terms and minor swear words. There are several racial slurs directed towards Arabs.
Alcohol / Drug Use: A main character smokes a cigarette. A main character is shown drinking beer.

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Jewel of the Nile Parents' Guide

Why do you think Joan and Jack have such a troubled relationship? Do you think one is more selfish than the other? Do you think they’ve learned anything during this adventure that will help their relationship?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Jewel of the Nile movie is April 1, 2020. Here are some details…

Related home video titles:

Romancing the Stone sees Joan running off to Colombia to ransom her sister. She winds up treasure hunting with Jack Colton and his sidekick Ralph.

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark is one of the best of the high octane action films. If you can’t get enough of the excitement, it comes with three sequels. For more of Harrison Ford’s charisma in a leading role, go straight to Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

For an African adventure without the racism, try out Black Panther. Part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this film introduces us to the imaginary kingdom of Wakanda.

An inspiring, true life movie set in Africa is Queen of Katwe, the story of a young girl whose mastery of chess is her way out of poverty.

If you want to enjoy a classic trip down the Nile, you can’t go wrong with Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn as they star in The African Queen.