MOVIE REVIEW – The ever-talented Sandra Bullock recently starred in the superb crime drama The Unforgivable, but now the actress returns in a very silly comedy. The Lost City is a familiar concept from elsewhere, but it could still have been good, but unfortunately, neither the jokes, the story, nor the acting makes this lacklustre film the least bit memorable.
It’s a severe handicap for a film whose story has been told in many places and made into at least two great classics. In the case of The Lost City, one is reminded of Jean-Paul Belmondo’s comedy film Le Magnifique and Michael Douglas’ Romancing the Stone, which told much the same story in a much more impressive and high-quality way with much better jokes.
A female pulp novelist exotic, romantic adventure
A true romantic action-adventure comedy, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. There is almost no prelude: the film immediately plunges you into the story of Loretta Sage (Bullock), a hugely successful romance novelist whose life has been defined by loneliness since the death of her beloved husband. Her apparent knowledge of a lost city – which she ‘flaunts’ in her latest romantic/comic pulp fiction – leads her to be kidnapped by a crazed, frustrated billionaire (Daniel Radcliffe) who believes she has found a priceless treasure, which she is spending a lot of money to find.
But Loretta proves to be more resourceful than her captors thought. She’s not alone – book cover model Alan (Channing Tatum), muscular but terribly buff, sets out to rescue her, which could lead to a great adventure and – at least in theory – romantic sparks between the two protagonists in the dangerous jungle backdrop of a forgotten island.
The film also features a relatively brief cameo by Brad Pitt as “Jack Trainer”, a paid mercenary who, along with the terribly inept Alan, tries to rescue Loretta.
Poor jokes, mediocre story
There’s not much more to say about the story, although there’s not really much to say. The film is mainly about the constant bickering between Loretta and Alan. They, of course, drift inexorably towards a romantic happy ending – exactly the kind of thing the film is supposed to parody. Actually, even that wouldn’t be a problem for a film like this if the often rather forced and tiresome jokes or the scenes that are meant to be funny were punchier, or at least the characters were a tad more interesting or ad absurdum, more believable.
Moreover, we’ve seen all this before, with much better acting, with genuinely amusing scenes in those great classics. Bullock brings her own routine but is still a pale shadow of Kathleen Turner’s performance in Romancing the Stone, just as Tatum is rather tiresome as the lame muscle-bound, fake-fat pretty boy – nowhere near the comic talent of Jean-Paul Belmondo, also thoroughly buffed in The Marvel. And let’s forget about the chemistry between the two of them too…
Of course, it’s not really the two actors’ fault, as Bullock recently proved himself in The Unforgivable and Tatum was likeable and believable in the PTSD-ridden human and canine war veteran Dog. But Daniel Radcliffe can’t be blamed for being more irritating than entertaining as the kidnapping billionaire. Quite simply, the botched script and the mostly lame jokes don’t provide enough opportunities for the actors to put their comedic skills to good use.
“The jungle eats people like us,” Loretta tells Alan.
So, too, we now learn do weak scripts.