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The Jewel of the Nile: Special Edition

This miserable 1985 sequel to the enjoyable hit adventure Romancing the Stone (1984) excels only at failing to mimic even one of its predecessor's many winning qualities. Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas return as romance novelist Joan Wilder and inadvertent adventurer Jack Colton, and The Jewel of the Nile catches up with the couple six months into their dream trip sailing around the world. Unlike in Joan's popular novels, however, a happy ending does not translate into a life of effortless romance: After half-a-year on a boat, Joan wants to return to New York to regain a sense of normality. Jack, on the other hand, after years of rugged traveling, is allergic to the real world and wants to sail on from the Riviera to Greece. With her own love story stagnant and stale, Joan is no longer in touch with her muse and faces frustrating writer's block — until she is approached by Omar (Spiros Focás), a mysterious sheik who has sought her out to write the story of his emergence as a transcendent figure in his troubled (fictional) area of North Africa. Jack takes Joan's excitement at the offer as a personal rejection and lets her go, but he's quickly enlisted — along with tagalong scumbag Ralph (Danny DeVito) — by a tribe of warriors who need his help overthrowing Omar, who has stolen their "jewel" in his quest for power. The first mistake made by The Jewel of the Nile's screenwriting team of Mark Rosenthal & Lawrence Konner is splitting up their charismatic stars for nearly half-an-hour in the first act. Even worse, however, is when Jack and Joan are reunited for a long chase across the Nubian Desert and their relationship is limited to idiotic bickering. Neither character is afforded an appealing moment for nearly an hour into the picture, and even that is rare indeed. The one good scene in Jewel, as Joan and Jack celebrate with a Nubian tribe, is typically misconceived: Rather than sharing a tender moment together, Jack simply leers as Joan shakes her booty alongside topless natives. Almost every plot point is nonsensical, and while the plotting of Romancing the Stone relied too heavily on coincidence, it at least had the spark of romance and mystery to salve the incredulity. All Jewel has is anemic and incomprehensible action scenes, and characters who are more loathsome (and less enjoyable) than the spiteful spouses in The War of the Roses. Also with Avner Eisenberg, the flying Karamazov Brothers, and Holland Taylor. Fox's Special Edition of The Jewel of the Nile is presented in a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with Dolby 2.0 Surround. Director Lewis Teague provides an audio commentary on the movie (inexplicably, he says the film is "the highlight of my career"), while other extras include three deleted scenes and a couple of featurettes. Keep-case in paperboard slipcover.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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