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1984 Movie Reviews – Greystroke, Misunderstood, Purple Hearts, and Romancing the Stone

by Sean P. Aune | March 30, 2024March 30, 2024 9:30 am EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1984 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.


We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly four dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1984 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1984 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around, it’s March 30, 1984, and we’re off to see Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Misunderstood, Purple Hearts, and Romancing the Stone.

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes

I have never been big on Tarzan. I grew up with enough reruns of the old material that it just appealed to me, and I can remember having no interest in Greystroke when it was released in 1984.

I’m not willing to say I’m now a convert to Tarzan stories, but I enjoyed this movie far more than I anticipated.

The story follows all of the normal tropes of Tarzan being raised by gorillas and eventually learning his true origins. No new ground is broken here, but Christopher Lambert turns in a stellar performance as the lead, and one that is extremely enjoyable.

That is not to say, however, that this movie doesn’t have some issues. The gorilla ears are so floppy as to be distracting, and the choice to redub all of Andie MacDowell’s lines is infuriating in a lot of ways. Got it, we can explain away Lambert’s accent, but not MacDowell’s. Makes total sense and isn’t the least bit alienating.

If you’ve wondered what a Tarzan movie was like, I would both start and stop with this production. This one, unlike many that came before it, is actually entertaining.


It seems the 1980s sure did like a family drama with a dead mom. And, of course, the dad always has to be emotionally unavailable. Table for Five was the most recent one I watched, but here we are again with Misunderstood.

Nad Rawley (Gene Hackman) has been hiding the death of his wife from his sons, Andrew (Henry Thomas) and Miles (Huckleberry Fox). Now a single dad, he’s thankfully rich, and hires nannies to take care of his sons who they eventually run off. Andrew is the first to learn of his mother’s passing, and Ned leans on him heavily to now take care of Andrew and to hide the truth from him. Meanwhile, he’s offering no support to Andrew who is having his own problems with the situation.

And all of this takes place somewhere in Africa because why not throw in some unnecessary cultural differences to muddy the waters.

Misunderstood is “fine.” That’s really all it is, “fine.” There is a lot of wasted talent here in Hackman and Thomas on a story that is just frankly not that interesting.

I’m seeing a lot of ‘distant parent’ stories here in the early 80s, and quite frankly, they are all really boring. I’ve yet to see one that would ever make me recommend it to anyone in passing.

Purple Hearts

Don Jardian (Ken Wahl) is a field doctor in the Vietnam War. While escorting a wounded soldier to a hospital he meets a nurse named Deborah Solomon (Cheryl Ladd), and decides he must now throw away his civilian life and constantly disobey orders to spend as much time as possible with her.

This movie so clearly wanted to be like the sweeping love story films of the World War II style, but just falls flat time and time again. I really have no complaints about the leads, or even the direction, but the script is just so lifeless. Everything feels calculated to such a degree that all of it comes off as a decision by a committee. Nothing about this film feels organic or original, and believing that these two are so madly in love is definitely a stretch.

I didn’t so much hate Purple Hearts as I pitied it. I know what it wanted to be, it just couldn’t get there no matter how hard it tried. This movie definitely belongs in the bin of ‘forgotten 80s movies,’ because there is nothing about it that is worth ever being visited again.

Romancing the Stone Review

(This review was originally published in 2019 when I first got this idea for the project. I watched the film again in 2024, and portions of the review have been updated.)

Romancing the Stone is a movie that should not have worked. But you had a first-time scriptwriter in Diane Thomas, a great director in Robert Zemeckis, and things started to come together. And then magic happened with the onscreen chemistry between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner. Add in Danny DeVito as a fumbling ‘villain,’ and the movie just worked.

The movie follows romance author Joan Wilder (Turner) as she heads to Cartagena to try to recover her kidnapped sister. During this adventure, she is threatened by an evil policeman named Zolo (Manuel Ojeda) and co-kidnapper Ralph (DeVito). Luckily she runs into Jack Colton (Douglas) who rescues her, but only will continue to help her if she pays him.

What follows is a fun action adventure film that breezes through its story that the titular stone – a giant emerald – seems like a true MacGuffin in that it merely exists to keep all of the characters moving in certain directions.

The movie is fluff from top to bottom, but it’s fun and revels in its silliness. And, clearly, the formula worked as the film took in $86.5M off of a $10M budget. This led to a second film, Jewel of the Nile, which was released in Dec. 1985.

1984 Movie Reviews will return on April 6 with Hard to Hold, Moscow on the Hudson, The Stone Boy, and Where the Boys Are ’84!


Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing