Romancing the Stone Parent Guide
This madcap adventure story comes with nearly non-stop violence and unnecessary sexual content.
Parent Movie Review
Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is a successful romance novelist who celebrates the completion of her latest torrid tale by having a candlelit dinner with Romeo…her cat. Her humdrum existence ends when a treasure map arrives in the mail from her recently deceased (and dismembered) brother-in-law, triggering a train of events that sees Joan racing off to Colombia to ransom her kidnapped sister. Throw in a violent and corrupt government official, bloodthirsty crocodiles, and a trek through the Colombian jungle, and Joan finds herself having adventures even her fervid imagination couldn’t have cooked up. Her luck only turns when she is rescued (for the first time of many) by Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), an American mercenary who traffics in rare birds and packs serious heat.
Romancing the Stone is one of many movies that tried and failed to capitalize on the success of the Indiana Jones franchise. Lacking the magnetism of Harrison Ford’s Indy, Michael Douglas seems to mistake arrogance and self-absorption for charisma. This production doesn’t have a lot of charm either, but it does manage to maintain an almost breathless pace, hurtling from one perilous scene to another. Despite this, the movie feels bloated and would have benefited from ruthless editing. Cutting at least 15 minutes would have left a leaner, tighter story.
The movie is also weighed down with significant content issues that make its PG rating misleading: it should be PG-13. The profanity is excessive but bigger problems arise with sexual content and violence. The film begins with a scene from one of Joan’s bodice-rippers, with a woman clad in a wet, mostly open blouse which gives a clear view of her cleavage and a blurry look at her nipple. The woman is being held at gunpoint and there is an implied threat of sexual violence. Another sex scene, consensual this time, features Joan and Jack in bed, with him lying on top of her. The scene is shot from the side and makes clear that neither are clothed, but no breasts or genitals are visible. Jack’s transactional attitude towards this interlude will be particularly troubling to many viewers.
As for violence, it’s central to the story. Characters are stabbed, shot at, or threatened throughout the entire movie and there are some moments of gore when crocodiles are used to intimidate people and a man’s hand is bitten off. He screams in pain and the gory stump is shown spurting blood.
There are a few positive messages hidden in this jungle saga, particularly in Joan’s character arc which displays significant growth. She progresses from a tentative woman, prone to motion sickness and afraid of travel, to one who has the confidence to brave real peril, all for love of her sister. Themes of persistence and cooperation also run through the movie.
Romancing the Stone has a misleading title: if you’re looking for a heart-melting, tender romance, there are better options. But if you’re looking for pulse-pounding action tale with all the finesse of a dime store romance novel, you might enjoy this. Just beware the content issues lurking in the jungle.Directed by Robert Zemeckis. Starring Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito. Running time: 106 minutes. Theatrical release March 30, 1984. Updated April 2, 2020
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Romancing the Stone
Rating & Content Info
Why is Romancing the Stone rated PG? Romancing the Stone is rated PG by the MPAA
Violence: There is mention of only being able to find part of a dead man’s body. A man is stabbed with a knife. In an imagined scene, an armed man bursts into a cabin and threatens a woman with the firearm. She speaks about rape and murder. There are several scenes where knives are thrown and people are stabbed. There are very frequent scenes where guns are pointed at people, people are threatened with firearms, and guns are fired. A child knocks a woman out with a weapon, throws her in her car, which he steals and drives off with. A bus crashes into a parked car. A man fires a gun out of frustration. Dead bodies are seen. A man kills a snake with a machete. A car goes over a waterfall. A man is hit in the groin. A man tries to hit a woman with a wooden beam. A man cuts a woman’s hand; blood is seen and she is told it will attract crocodiles. A man’s hand is bitten off by a crocodile; the bloody stump is shown spurting blood. A man falls onto an oil lamp and begins to burn. A man falls into a pit of crocodiles and dies.
Sexual Content: In an imagined scene, a woman is shown wearing a blouse which is open quite low, allowing views of her cleavage; it is also damp and her nipple is visible. She mentions sexual assault. A man and woman slide down a mountain in a mudslide: when they stop his head is between her knees. A man and woman have sex: he is lying on top of her and his back is visible. The camera then shoots from the side, showing that both are naked but avoiding genital or breast shots.
Profanity: A conservative count gives almost twenty terms of deity, just under ten scatological curses, a handful of anatomical terms, crude terms, mild profanities, and at least one ethnic slur for Hispanics.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There are several scenes where main characters drink alcohol, alone or with others. Secondary characters smoke cigarettes and cigars. A character avers that she used marijuana in university. Characters stumble across a cache of drugs.
Page last updated April 2, 2020
Romancing the Stone Parents' Guide
Joan is afraid to travel and gets motion sickness, but she still heads off to Colombia to save her sister. Have you ever done something you were afraid of to help someone?
Related home video titles:
Joan and Jack have more exotic adventures in the sequel, The Jewel of the Nile.
For an adventure story with more charm, check out Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. Who can argue with trying to beat Nazis to a dangerous artifact?
Treasure hunting is more exciting (and way more fun) in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl which introduces Johnny Depp and Captain Jack Sparrow.
National Treasure is a family friendly story of a treasure hunter convinced that the key to a fabulous treasure lies with the Declaration of Independence. But to prove his theory, he’s going to have to steal it.
Treasure hunting movies that can be watched by children include Muppet Treasure Island and the animated Treasure Planet.