Bullock and Tatum’s comedy talents make The Lost City worth a visit


Romantic adventure-comedy The Lost City is totally fuelled by the star power of its leads, writes Eliza Janssen. Sometimes, that and a fuchsia sequinned jumpsuit is just enough.

The Lost City

In Cinemas Now | Times & Tickets
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I’m still salty that this swashbuckling comedy no longer goes by its original title: the same title of the latest romance novel by Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), “The Lost City of D.” On its own, the name The Lost City is forgettable, as if we could actually be watching some generic straight-to-DVD adventure flick.

“It’s D for dick, right?”, Loretta’s overworked publicist Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) hopes. But nope, because Loretta is a self-described “sapiosexual” with little time for dick ever since her husband died. The “D” instead represents the ancient Atlantic island culture she wishes she was writing about, instead of churning out frothy bodice-rippers for horny mums.

All readers really care about, anyway, is shirtless Fabio-wigged cover model Alan—Channing Tatum back in 21 Jump Street mode, spouting bewildered whoa-dude one-liners in between explosions and right hooks. Anyone who has seen the poster for this movie or Romancing The Stone knows that the unlikely pair will soon become stranded in their own steamy jungle mission, and the joke here is just how unequipped both characters are for the motorcycle chases and cliff climbs to come.

How we get there takes cumbersome time and work to set up. It’s all caused by Daniel Radcliffe’s jolly billionaire Fairfax, who believes Loretta can fetch a priceless, buried headdress with which he can impress his daddy (potential Succession season four subplot???). Alan swoops in to rescue her from Fairfax’s clutches but faceplants at every opportunity, even letting superior action hero Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) get hilariously killed off mid-escape.

The dramatic and comedic timing of our introductions to both Pitt and Radcliffe are poorly paced, meaning the selling point of Bullock and Tatum’s survival shenanigans only start in earnest about 40 minutes in.

The Lost City is directed by brothers Aaron and Adam Nee, who wrote the screenplay with three other dudes. That’s way too much manpower for a script with all the best jokes depending so heavily on easy pop culture references (“Am I Taken? Am I tooken?”, Loretta panics) or on the talented leads’ physical comedy. It’s riotous to see Bullock slithering out of a hammock, or awkwardly getting dipped in a romantic embrace, and any of the impactful slapstick bits work great.

Nobody’s coming to see this movie for its in-depth adventure plot: still, it would be cool if the filmmakers put more care in just for the craft of it. Studio comedies like Game Night and Tatum’s own Jump Street movies wove humour into the necessary trappings of their genre, lovingly mimicking the editing and aesthetic of serious crime films. The Lost City is very dependent on CGI despite being shot on location in Colombia, quickly getting our hunky leads to villages and compounds to avoid one too many green-screen mountain vistas. The juiciest bit is some leeches glued onto Tatum’s buns, but nothing else feels much like the splashy Indiana Jones jaunt we were promised.

Bowen Yang, I Think You Should Leave gem Patti Harrison, and The Office’s Oscar Nuñez all get little gasps of recognition from the audience, in small roles where it’s hard to tell whether their best gags are improv or not. They’re mostly kept outta Sandy and Chan’s way, as is every other defining feature of The Lost City, which generally feels nervous to do anything but showcase the considerable chemistry of its two big stars.

And TBH that’s basically enough: her in an increasingly torn-up sequinned onesie, and him being given a few opportunities to dance and blunder. At the very least, The Lost City accomplishes its primary mission of making you laugh, even if it scores about a D in most other fields of filmmaking.

The Lost City

In Cinemas Now | Times & Tickets
Streaming Now
  • Google Play
  • Apple TV
  • Prime Video Store