Sometimes I miss films that haven’t come out in the last few weeks. I’m human. Occasionally, I’ll catch up on some films I finally got around to that I have missed.
Derivative, pointless, and an absolute blast, Aaron and Adam Nee’s The Lost City proves that story doesn’t matter as long as you have two charismatic moviestars and a host of solid character actors bringing the laughs.
Sandra Bullock stars as Loretta Sage, a romance novelist who is burned out with her writing following the death of her archeologist husband. In order to promote her new book The Lost City of D, her publisher Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) arranges a book tour with Loretta and the book’s cover model Alan (Channing Tatum).
Eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) asks Loretta to help him find a real artifact on a remote Atlantic island. When she refuses, Fairfax kidnaps her. Alan, who witnessed the kidnapping and is secretly enamored with Loretta, heads to the island in pursuit in order to save her.
The story really doesn’t matter. It’s just a good excuse to get Bullock and Tatum in situations together. There have been plenty of online debates about whether moviestars matter. I would point to The Lost City as being the prime example of how they absolutely do. If you have a pair of mid-tier actors in this situation, the film falls completely flat. The directors stand back and let the stars shine.
Bullock is always great, but this film gets to showcase her physical control. The majority of her humor comes from her body contortions and seemingly lack of physical prowess. It’s difficult to act like you don’t know how to handle yourself in these awkward situations, and Bullock is a master.
While Tatum has a full handle on the physical, he does embody someone who isn’t intelligent, but is hyper-aware of his limitations. He smartly plays up his character’s immaturity, but also taps into his sensitivity and desire to be better. Tatum has a few standout scenes where he displays a surprising amount of vulnerability, which really makes the scenes sing.
This is 100% a chemistry film. Bullock and Tatum make it work because the film comes alive when they are on-screen together. Every other actor who shows up does it in service to the primary relationship. Even Brad Pitt’s hilarious cameo (which doesn’t last long enough) is meant to clash with the central duo.
That doesn’t mean all the actors aren’t great. Randolph is always a joy, while Radcliffe is also obviously enjoying himself. Patti Harrison tries her best to steal every scene she’s in, while Oscar Nunez tries the same. Pitt is the lasting impression from the other cast.
The Lost City breaks no new ground and is ultimately forgettable, but the fun Bullock and Tatum are having is enough to spring for the ticket. It will make no Best-Of lists, but that doesn’t matter. I had an absolute blast.
They should make one of these a month.