By Marc S. Sanders
Sandra Bullock’s film The Lost City is nothing more than rollicking fun at the movie theater. A popcorn movie. You can simply focus on gorging yourself with endless amounts of popped kernels and large fizzy drinks and you’ll never find yourself lost in a complex plot. It’s a screwball adventure in the same vein of Romancing The Stone. What I appreciate is that it is not a duplicate blueprint of Romancing The Stone. Maybe just the opening scene, but no matter.
Bullock is Loretta, a reclusive romance novelist, who knows that her books are nothing more than cheesy pulp material to the umpteenth degree. Her agent Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) keeps a positive attitude as she encourages a book tour to promote Loretta’s newest installment in a series that follows the adventures of Loretta’s fictional swashbuckler. That hero is preserved on the covers of her novels in the image of fashion model, Alan (Channing Tatum) – a Fabio inspiration. Alan dons the gorgeous blond locks wig with the beefcake chest and the fans seem to go wild for him more than they do for Loretta’s work. Even the glittery purple jumpsuit with stiletto heels that Loretta dons for an appearance at a book fair doesn’t deter the screaming fans away from Alan’s muscular build and chiseled chin.
When Loretta is captured by a spoiled brat of a villain known as Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), she finds herself having to research the location of a lost city on a remote island rumored to possess treasures beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Somehow, within Loretta’s fiction she implied the actual location of this place. Abigail needs her to delve even further towards the destination.
This all sounds cliché. It is, actually. So what!
What saves The Lost City is the screwball comedic approach to the film. Bullock and Tatum are nearly twenty years apart in age. Yet, they make a great pair in the same way that Hepburn and Grant did in Bringing Up Baby. I could care less about the actual lost city and whatever treasure was there. The symbols etched on an old piece of parchment that Loretta attempts to decipher never mattered to me. Two days after seeing the movie, I don’t even remember what the lost city revealed when they eventually got there. I did like the endless pratfalls of Tatum and Bullock, however.
Channing Tatum looks like the adventurer of a romance novel. Yet, he’s nothing more than a pretty boy or a “mimbo” as Jerry Seinfeld might describe him. He’s actually got a crush on Loretta and upon determining that she’s been kidnapped, he recruits the legendary problem solver Jack Trainer (who could only be encapsulated in the form of a gorgeously blond, tan and muscular Brad Pitt) to rescue Loretta. It’s important to Alan, though, that he gets recognized as the savior. So, he kind of learns as he goes.
Adventures in the jungle abound. There are bad guys on motorcycles. Guns, of course. Fires within Alastair’s luxury SUV. Rock climbing. Rivers with leeches. Dark caverns and on and on and on. Yeah. I’ve seen this all before. Again, I say so what! It’s just a fun time at the movies that brought me back to the fast-paced escapades found in the 1980’s films I grew up on. Yet, it has its own spin thanks to the relationship of Alan and Loretta.
Daniel Radcliffe and his beard are also great characters. It’s a nice departure from the shoe horned role that’ll never leave him as a certain boy wizard who will not be named here. He just brings out his fun bratty side. His beard seems to wink along with him.
A better side story could have come with Da’Vine Joy Randolph though. As the agent goes from one traveling step to the next as she attempts to find Loretta herself, Randolph just doesn’t look comfortable in the role with her sky-blue pant suit and big breasted physique that is intentionally in your face. Where’s the slapstick that should be accompanying her? She’s specifically made up to look like diva luxury and you’re waiting for one disaster after another to befall her. Beyond having to fly on a puddle jumper plane carrying farm animals, she simply survives her trek unscathed. Either this storyline should have been excised all together, or it should have been rewritten to be just as silly as what Bullock and Tatum are delivering. A flop in the mud or a slip in the river would have helped this plotline.
The Lost City is just a cute film for Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum to look…well…cute together, and in a world where celebrities are slapping each other silly on live television, isn’t this a much better escape on a Saturday afternoon?