In our quest to get in the mood for Colombia, we watched Romancing the Stone with the kids last night. It’s set in Cartagena, and is rated PG, which seems to be unusual for movies set in Colombia. Most of our other options seem profoundly inappropriate for nine-year-old, featuring drug cartels and excessively violent death. But Romancing the Stone? It’s Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas when they were young and fabulous in a the-’80s-just-started sort of way. What could go wrong?
First, there are alligators. Now, in all my guidebook reading, there has been nary a mention of alligators. However, the directors of Romancing clearly didn’t think demented paramilitary troops created enough tension, so they added lots of alligators. So now my kids — despite my reassurances that it’s all Hollywood lies — are convinced that they can’t go anywhere near the water in Colombia. Which is inconvenient given that a major component of our plan involves the Caribbean Sea.
Second, there’s a lot of hacking through jungles, crashed planes full of [hushed voice] drugs, menacing villagers, and mudslides depositing the heroes in dangerous waterfalls, all of which caused Kathleen Turner’s outfit to get shorter and shorter, which I realized was my only memory of this film from the last time I saw it. So they’re not particularly enamoured with heading into the mountains either.
Every time the camera panned out, though, and showed the roofs or medieval walls of Cartagena, Eric and I both jumped up — “Look! That’s Cartagena! We might live there!” — to create some excitement.
The kids soldiered through, their look of skepticism deepening at times to horror, since they are starting to realize that they are stuck in a family that is positively insane, because what type of responsible parents would ever consider taking their beautiful offspring to a country full of all these awful things?
After the movie ended, and Michael Douglas in his alligator skin boots showed up in New York to rescue Kathleen from her sad and lonely single woman life, I discovered that the movie was filmed in Mexico. No part of it was in Colombia. Which in hindsight is obvious because in 1984, Colombia was actually full of jungles to hack through, crashed planes full of drugs, menacing villagers, mudslides and waterfalls. And snakes. And drug lords. So, well, duh.