Movies at the Library: A romp just after Valentine’s Day

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Movies at the Library keeps the loving coming beyond V-Day with a screening of"Romancing the Stone."

REPORTER FILE PHOTO | Movies at the Library keeps the loving coming beyond V-Day with a screening of”Romancing the Stone.”

This one’s just for fun. A “rom-com” as it’s called in the business (aka romantic comedy) well suited to the proximity of Valentine’s Day.

It’s “Romancing the Stone,” starring Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas and Danny DeVito; it will be shown at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 18 on the library’s lower level.

Turner plays New York-based writer Joan Wilder. She has named her cat Romeo because there is no other in her life. The only romance anywhere in sight leaps from the pages of her novels, which feature throbbing loins, the hungry lips of lovers devouring each other and beautiful heroines boldly facing the dangers and desperados that stand between them and their true loves.

But even Joan’s writing seems at risk: her latest efforts haven’t sold very well. Perhaps because her own life is so lacking in adventure.

What follows is a plot straight out of a romance novel. Joan’s widowed sister has been kidnapped by a doltish pair of cousins (Danny DeVito and Zack Norman). Joan must retrieve a treasure map showing the location of a priceless jewel, fly to Cartagena and deliver the map to the kidnappers. Or her sister will be killed. Though terrified of travel, Joan does as she must. But, on arrival in Colombia, she boards the wrong bus and gets stranded in the countryside with Zolo (Manuel Ojeda), a sinister character who is also after the map.

Enter Jack Colton (Michael Douglas). In trade for all $375 of Joan’s travelers’ checks, he’ll help her get to Cartagena. But with the cousins plus Zolo and his murderous henchmen after them, the journey is anything but a hand-holding stroll on the pearly sands of a palm-fringed tropical bay.

Along the way, Jack holds off Zolo (who lusts after Joan as well as the map), local thugs, mountain bandits and an entire pit of snarling alligators — all with the resourceful elan of the hero of one of Joan’s novels. And, yes, Joan falls for him, thereby inspiring him to try to be worthy of her.

It’s all done with high spirits, lush cinematography and a goodly dose of humor. Danny DeVito — a Peter Lorre type decked out in a tropical white suit — wears a Panama hat that keeps getting trampled in the mud. To his villain-y annoyance. And there’s Juan, a squinchy-eyed drug dealer, who just happens to read all of Joan’s novels to his cronies.

Altogether, it’s a tongue-in-cheek take-off on “Raiders of the Lost Ark” crossed with “The Perils of Pauline.” Tack on the surprise romantic ending and you have a rollicking 105-minute funhouse ride that carries us from the canyons of Manhattan to the steaming jungles of South America.

“Romancing the Stone” was directed by Robert Zemeckis of “Back to the Future” fame and written by Diane Thomas, who was nominated for a Writers’ Guild Award for excellence in screenwriting. Kathleen Turner won a Golden Globe for her performance; the film editors were nominated for an Oscar for their work. The picture was released in 1984.

Movies at the Library will return to more high-minded choices anon. Meantime do come to this one simply for the fun. Bring a pal. You’ll both enjoy it.