The Lost City Movie Review: A middling Meta Romance

Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum are caught off guard by a jumbled and meandering storyline that is better suited to the wild performances of its supporting cast.

This review does not include any spoilers.

No matter how hackneyed or trope-ridden, romantic schlock is entertaining.

No other genre is as capable of eliciting swooning and female escapism as it is. The damsel in distress is rescued, bandits pursue our heroes incessantly, and numerous back-and-forths between will-they-won’t-they scenarios are to be expected. It’s unabashedly cliched, but it’s also spicy and exciting.

The Lost City Movie Review

This is why putting Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in The Lost City, a semi-romantic comedy/adventure, seemed like a surefire hit. One is resuming her humorous career, while the other is cast in a position that complements his soft, mannish demeanor.

Instead, the film seems self-conscious of its romantic romanticism and, at moments, it’s own writing. Actors have the impression that they are dallying on their lines for the sake of naturalism, while someone in their earpiece is feverishly trying to keep them on track – to no avail.

The film begins with $exually charged writing and meta-commentary sprinkled throughout. Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is a romance novelist who despises writing romantic novels. She resents having to deal with Alan Caparison (Channing Tatum), the doddering cover model who, by appearing as Dash McMahon, the hero of her novel The Lost City of D, brings readers’ fantasies to life.

The Lost City Movie

Loretta is a specialist in Spanish history and anthropology, two loves she shared with her late husband (and which she now incorporates into her works).

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Loretta’s recent book tour, which was organized by her publicist Beth (played by the outstanding Da’Vine Joy Randolph), is thrown into disarray when she is kidnapped by Abigail Fairfax, a wicked British billionaire (played by a hyperbolic Daniel Radcliffe). Alan, who has developed feelings for Loretta, channels his inner Dash and devises a rescue plan with the help of his trainer, Jack Trainer (played suavely by Brad Pitt).

What follows is a feast of turmoil and laughter, led by a colorful cast of supporting characters, that deflates as soon as we return to Bullock and Tatum.

Sandra Bullock, who is most known for her rom-com role in The Proposal, her classic fish-out-of-water pageant antics in Miss Congeniality, and the recklessly spunky Annie Porter in Speed, portrays a combination of the three.

She’s a self-described sapiosexual who writes $exually charged content that, in her opinion, is lacking in substance. She despises the fact that her readers are oblivious to the book’s deeper anthropological meaning in favor of ogling the naughty bits. This does not make her relatable; in fact, it works against her. I’d rather be with the horny zealots than the out-of-touch snobs.

Ironically, the best part of the film was a manly man doing masculine things, which is the polar opposite of what the meta-narrative is attempting to achieve. Brad Pitt, straight out of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, gives a sneak peek at his action prowess in the upcoming Bullet Train (which also stars Sandra Bullock, hopefully in a better-written role).

His short burst of testosterone-fueled hedonism is brisk and jarring. It was so fantastic that I heard an audible groan in my theatre when it concluded. “God, we have to make do with Channing Tatum now?” I imagine that individual was thinking.

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