When I first saw the trailer for The Lost City – or The Lost City of D as it was originally known – I was elated. You see, my friends and I have a tradition of having a few drinks and going to watch bad films; and boy, oh boy, did The Lost City look like it was going to be absolutely dreadful.
Set to ‘Cake by the Ocean’ by DNCE, The Lost City teaser had Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum mugging and gurning their way through some torturous jokes, all while being menaced by the lad from Harry Potter. It looked like the type of film that Adam Sandler jokes about making; we’re talking Dunkaccino levels of bad.
But, and it’s not often I say this, I was wrong. How wrong? Well, The Lost City is probably one of the best cinema experiences I’ve had in 2022, and one of the best comedy movies of the year. It was just fun to be in a packed cinema full of people laughing along to some great jokes, and I’m a sucker for cinema when it brings people together, even if what brought us together were jokes about Channing Tatum’s dick.
The Lost City tells the story of Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), an uninspired romance novelist who feels trapped by her most famous creation, Dash McMahon. Forced by her best friend and publicist Beth Hatten (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) to go on one final book tour, Loretta’s day goes from bad to worse when she learns her thoughtless cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) is also coming along.
Just when Loretta thinks things can’t get any worse, she’s kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax, a billionaire obsessed with finding The Lost City mentioned in Loretta’s books. What seems like a fool’s errand quickly becomes the adventure of a lifetime for Loretta and Alan as the pair try to discover the ‘The Crown of Fire’ from its tomb before Fairfax does.
Ok, on paper, The Lost City sounds stupider than driving down a bus lane backwards, but it’s actually a surprisingly sweet and, more importantly, hilarious movie full of great gags, good character moments, and a surprising amount of action. Its greatest strength lies in its leads: Tatum, Bullock, and Radcliffe.
All three are clearly very talented actors, but when you mix them all together, it’s like comedic alchemy. They just play off each other very well. Bullock probably has the least glamorous part, at least on paper, playing the straight woman to her more eccentric male co-stars.
While a lesser actor may have struggled to cut through against these big personalities, Bullock’s over the top frustration and realistic reaction to the bizarre situation she finds herself in make her the funniest character in the film.
We know after watching the Jump Street movies how funny Tatum can be when he’s playing up his obliviousness, but with Alan, he dials it up to 11 to deliver a performance so perfectly dumb, it should be put in whatever the museum for perfect dumb things is called. Radcliffe, meanwhile, continues his post-Potter trajectory of waking up every morning and choosing chaos, giving a performance that yo-yos between delightfully charming and alarmingly unhinged.
Into the jungle! Best thriller movies
As we mentioned, the action is surprisingly good as well. While not on the level of a dedicated action movie, there are a few decent set pieces and at least one kill that both shocked me and had me crying with laughter.
I’m a sucker for a well-executed blend of genres. Comedy and action go together well but so often attempts to mix the two end up like a four-year-old mixing paint – you get the cinematic equivalent of brown.
The Nee Brothers – who directed the film – clearly have a degree of respect for action and adventure movies. As such, they can pull on general tropes and cliches that dog adventure films and lambast them while still paying tribute to the fantastic films of the genre. It reminded me, if anything, of the work of Edgar Wright, if not quite on the same level.
If I’m honest, I came within a gnat’s wing of giving this film five stars. There’s just one thing that lets it down in the end. While the film’s a good send-up of big adventure movies, it also tries to be a rom-com as well, and that’s where it fell down for me. I just didn’t believe the Loretta and Alan love story. They seemed too incompatible with each other.
The Lost City is a delight and well worth your time. Just try and go in with a more open mind than I originally did if you can – you won’t regret it.
The Lost City review
The Lost City is a hilarious treasure.