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  Jewel of the Nile, The The Road To Africa
Year: 1985
Director: Lewis Teague
Stars: Michael Douglas, Kathleen Turner, Danny DeVito, Spiros Focás, Avner Eisenberg, Paul David Magid, Howard Jay Patterson, Randall Edwin Nelson, Samuel Ross Williams, Timothy Daniel Furst, Hamid Fillali, Holland Taylor, Guy Cuevas, Daniel Peacock
Genre: Comedy, Action, Romance, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: Joan Wilder (Kathleen Turner) is composing her latest novel, a tale of adventure on the high seas, complete with romance, action and pirates. But as she writes, she grows more dissatisfied with her story, which reflects the way she is feeling about her life. It should be perfect, she is on a yacht in the Mediterranean with the man of her dreams, Jack Colton (Michael Douglas), but what she really wishes to do now is settle down - that, and think up a great plot for her new book, which is eagerly awaited by her agent. She has a press launch this afternoon, something Jack has forgotten about, but before she goes she receives a cryptic message in a bunch of flowers...

Could this be a new adventure for the intrepid heroine of Romancing the Stone? Well, yes, but it's also an example of how the music videos produced to promote would-be blockbusters in the eighties could end up overshadowing the films they were designed to publicise. If you watch the video for the theme song to this, "Go and Get Stuffed (The Tough Get Going)" by Billy Ocean, it makes this movie look like one of the greatest of all time. Marvel at how the clips are matched with the lyrics! Look at how the stars pretend to be dancing-in-unison backing singers! And best of all, see how Michael Douglas going "No!" on top of a train is synchronised to Ocean singing "Woah!" on the soundtrack!

Yes, that video was a world beater, but Jewel of the Nile, the actual film, sadly fell short. It took less money than its predecessor, ended the franchise in its tracks and director Lewis Teague never enjoyed such a big production to helm ever again. Part of the trouble was that Romancing the Stone had presented us with the perfect "and they all lived happily ever after" finale, so essentially this was the equivalent of asking, yeah, happily ever after, but what happened next? Which is the kind of awkward question authors of fairy tales and blockbusters alike shouldn't really have to answer. Nevertheless, here it was, the answer to the question few would have inquired about.

As plots go, however, perhaps Jewel's wasn't too bad. It placed the three returning stars (Danny DeVito's Ralph was back and looking for revenge) in North Africa when a sheik, Omar (Spiros Focás), invites Joan to pen his exciting life story. Jack isn't interested and begins to feel as if their relationship has come to the end of its natural life, and in what is a nicely played and written scene they agree to go their separate ways; quite poignant. However, that tender moment is left well alone when Jack finds his boat blown up and Joan finds the sheik is in fact a power-crazed man of violence with ambitions to rule the continent - and that's not all.

Omar has what is precious to a large group of tribesmen, something called the Jewel of the Nile that everyone wants to get their hands on. Unusually for a MacGuffin, he's an actual person, a spiritual leader (Avner Eisenberg) who turns out to be an unassuming chap with a neat line in worlds of wisdom. Not that Jack and Ralph are aware of that until late on in the film, they think they have a fortune coming to them. After Joan and the Jewel escape, they meet up with Jack who shakes off Ralph and the hijinks ensue, with a fighter jet that never takes off as one of the action highlights. Unfortunately, there may be action highlights but the humour is a little sparse, with only a small handful of genuinely laugh-inducing situations. And even those action sequences are a little suspect, resorting to Joan's inability to jump onto a train like the men can to prompt excitement, for example. All concerned were undoubtedly hoping for an updated Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road picture, but there are a lot of outdated attitudes towards the Africans that they appear to have imported too. It's not a bad film for what it is, it's simply unnecessary. Music by Jack Nitzsche.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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