If there’s one genre I used to despise during my youth, it was the kind of goofy rom-com that tended to be so horrifically predictable, you could guess virtually every story beat from a quick glance at the one-sheet hanging up in a cinema foyer three months before the damn thing was released. However, despite my distaste for last minute declarations of love and endless “amusing” misunderstandings, I had never actually realised that the once rich pool that used to swamp the multiplexes had pretty much all dried up.
This is, of course, until now, thanks to the arrival of The Lost City, a goofy mash up of the usual tropes and Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing The Stone that features not only the rom-com queen herself, Sandra Bullock, but Hollywood beefcake extraordinaire, Mr. Channing Tatum.
But is this brightly coloured romp through the jungle enough to get the juices of the fluffy rom-com flowing as freely as a tropical stream?
Romance novelist Loretta Sage has been settling in to an ever growing slump ever since the death of her archeologist husband and has been growing increasingly embarrassed of her career, especially since most people thinks that the “D” in the title of her latest book, The Lost City Of D, stands for dick. Making her latest (and most likely last) book tour even more unbearable is well-meaning, but dopey cover model Alan Caprison, who has an over-inflated sense of his fame after being the cover model for Loretta’s adventurer hero, Dash McMahon for many years. Alan obviously is carrying a sizable torch for Loretta, but after a disastrous start to the tour, the author is kidnapped by men working for eccentric (although brattish might be a more accurate term) billionaire Abigail Fairfax who fancies himself quite the adventurer and has realised Loretta has based her novels on her husbands actual research and they hold the key to finding some legendary treasure mouthwateringly dubbed the “Crown Of Fire” that’s been stashed in a lost city somewhere on a remote Atlantic island.
While Loretta’s dedicated publicist strives to get her back by hiring luxuriously maned, former Navy Seal Jack Trainer, the horribly unprepared Alan insists on coming along, thinking that a dramatic rescue will finally let Loretta seen him in a more heroic light, but as we’ve all probably guessed, the gods of comedy simply can’t allow something like this to occur without repeated hiccups, misunderstandings and prat falls and so the couple has to negotiate the jungle with Fairfax’s men on their heels every step of the way. However, re-energized by actually being in the sort of adventure she writes about, Loretta starts to wonder: maybe she could actually locate the Crown Of Fire herself?
As novel as it is to watch a jungle-set comedy that somehow doesn’t involve Dwayne Johnson in any form whatsoever (Is he alright? I mean does someone want to check on him or something?), it’s also kind of sweet to see one of these dopey comedy extravaganzas back on the big screen and I must be getting soft in my old age, because despite my misgivings of the genre I mentioned earlier, I found The Lost City to be enjoyable guff. I mean, the movie blatently has no qualms as to how ridiculous it truly is and it’s to the directors Aaron and Adam Nee’s credit that they aren’t afraid of it.
Embracing the silly to the extent of having rom-com Queen Sandra Bullock spend most of the movie in a spectacularly hideous sparkly pink jumpsuit and having Brad Pitt show up in an extended cameo as a patronising action hero who isn’t above dramatically flicking his hair as explosions rage around him, The Lost City ends up being sweetly endearing even though it carries all the weight of a helium filled hummingbird.
The secret, I guess, is familiarity. Bullock can play the awkward klutz in her sleep (“Unchain me!” She yells at her kidnappers at one point only for it to be pointed out that she’s actually still wearing her airplane seatbelt), while Tatum is similarly adept at playing the beautiful idiot and the fact that both are lodged firmly within a fairly unsubtle ripoff of the basic beats of the aforementioned Romancing The Stone, give it a sense of familiarity even on your first viewing. Coupled with Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s supernaturally loyal publicist sparking a rapport with the US Office’s Oscar Nunez as an off kilter, goat obsessed cargo pilot and Daniel Radcliffe going full dastardly as the obsessively spoilt villain, the whole operation is in supremely capable hands who guide the movie enjoyable through the motions even when the occasional joke fails to land.
Hardly essential fare then, but then not everything in the cinemas needs to be as super serious as Batman in a staring competition (Jesus, maybe I am getting soft), and it’s nice to see something so breezy and throwaway not just simply bundled onto some streaming site just because the window for decent release dates is getting narrower thanks to the upcoming summer season.
As disposable as tissue paper and just as light, The Lost City is actually a fun discovery for an undemanding night out, if only because it’s nice to watch something every now and then that isn’t a sequel or part of a connected universe and is just silly for silly’s sake – I’m looking at you, Uncharted. Besides, Bullock is funny, Tatum is funny, Pitt is funny. What else do you really need if you fancy some entertaining pit falls – both adventurous and funny.