I have reviewed several lackluster romantic comedies recently, so when I sat down for The Lost City, I did not get my hopes up. The new movie starring Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum did not disappoint and satisfied my craving for a good old-fashioned blockbuster romcom.
In The Lost City, romance author Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) struggles to write while grieving her husband. Her publisher, Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph), forces her out on a flashy book tour, which Loretta ruins by getting into an argument with the cover model for her books, Alan (Channing Tatum). As she storms off, maniacal millionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) kidnaps her so she can translate an ancient language and lead him to a treasure buried in the Lost City D—the lost civilization from her most recent book. But for real. Along with a mysterious tracker (Brad Pitt, introduced as a voice on the phone, eating), Alan travels to the jungle to save Loretta, with Beth in hot pursuit.
The Lost City showcases Sandra Bullock’s best features. As Loretta Sage, she is grumpy and smart, attractive but awkward. Fans of Miss Congeniality may be reminded of just how fun a romantic comedy can be in her hands. As Alan, Channing Tatum’s performance is pretty one-note, but his chemistry with Bullock is sufficient to make the character funny and charming.
The plot of this movie uses many genre tropes, so if the writing had not been clever, the whole production could have been cliched and dull. Instead, the writing provides plenty of banter, twists, and even Latin quotations to keep the story feeling fresh. In one of my favorite moments, Beth begs the local police to help her by explaining that she has been trying to take a nap for years. The intense “rise and grind” fatigue in both the writing and Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s performance make the silly monologue work.
For a particularly fun slice of the movie, Brad Pitt and Channing Tatum make a joint rescue effort with Tatum shadowing a far more capable Pit. The interplay between the two hyper-masculine characters is wonderfully funny. Even better, the bit does not drag on, getting stale. This movie works so well because of how judicious it is with its various elements. A romance plot is required, given Loretta’s profession, but the romantic portions are sprinkled in among the action plot.
Similarly, Daniel Radcliffe’s Abigail Fairfax feels transplanted from HBO’s Succession, but his character does not have enough screentime to veer too far into caricature. Even Oscar Nuñez’s character, who is suspiciously similar to his role in Bullock’s The Proposal is not around enough to annoy. The Lost City is well-edited, keeping the story’s different threads moving at a steady clip and actually bringing it together with a satisfying ending that does not lean too hard on the Harlequin Romance possibilities.
As a bonus, there’s the horrible, but fun pink sequin jumpsuit that Loretta has to wear for her adventure in the jungle. It’s an inherently funny piece of clothing in the context, made funnier by how awkward Sandra Bullock acts in it. Hat’s off to the costumer.
The Lost City is the kind of popcorn movie that you might not expect much from, but it hits all the right notes in adventure, comedy, and romance, with some surprisingly quippy writing. I really enjoyed this picture.
The Lost City was directed and written by Aaron and Adam Nee with Dana Fox and Oren Uziel. It runs for 1 hour and 52 minutes and is rated PG-13.
On HBO Max, the two-part documentary Gaming Wall Street explains the stock market trends and tactics that created the opportunity for huge gains and losses during 2021’s GameStop short squeeze, when members of the r/WallStreetBets subreddit bought stock in the failing video game store as a way to get a little revenge on Wall Street. Narrated by Kieran Culkin, the documentary by director Tobias Deml uses awry style to dive into the details of the short squeeze and make a case for consumer knowledge as a means of fighting corruption. Some of the interview subjects are far more tolerable than others, but the production does a good job of examining the GameStop event from both inside and outside perspectives. I think it could have been twenty minutes shorter and combined into one part, but the inclusion of stock market vocabulary in sidebars and the human drama of it all, especially for those of us who graduated into the Great Recession, make Gaming Wall Street a worthy watch.