A surprisingly charming, self-aware, and action-packed rom-com that might be the best of the year.
Honestly, I thought The Lost City was going to be trash. What is this Jungle Cruise-looking rom-com adventure that stole the plot of Romancing The Stone, and why do I weirdly like really want to see it? I’ll admit that part of the intrigue was the star-studded cast. Sandra Bullock? Legend. Channing Tatum? Icon. Brad Pitt? Never disappoints. Daniel Radcliffe? Say no more.
After widowed bestselling romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is kidnapped by insecure British rich-boy, Abigal Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), a rescue team comprised of her cover model, Alan (Channing Tatum), and his trainer, Jack Trainer (Brad Pitt) deploy themselves on the jungle island where Loretta is being held captive. Directed by the Nee brothers, Aaron and Adam, whose previous work consists of the eccentric comedies Band of Robbers and The Last Romantic, it’s no surprise these two were granted rights to write and direct a He-Man movie as their next project.
And yet, I still had my suspicions. I didn’t have high hopes for this film, but never judge a book by its cover (model) I guess! As a massive fan of the genre, I say this with every rom-com loving bone in my body: this is the best romantic comedy since Palm Springs (2020). Yeah, I was surprised too.
After my screening of The Lost City on Tuesday night, I took to Twitter (as the #FilmTwitter nerds do) to toss my initial reaction into to pot. I was surprised to find my inbox immediately flooded with questions; I didn’t realize how many people had the same curiosities and suspicions as I did. But one comment in particular — a very passionate voice message, I should add — left me with a funny feeling.
“I just want you to know the standard you just set for this movie,” the anonymous voice said of my comparison to Palm Springs. “If this movie is not what you say it is, we’re going to have to have a talk.” Gulp.
Now, this was all in good fun (...right, anon?), but they made a good point. For me, Palm Springs was an absolute blast. It remains one of the most surprising releases of 2020 and one of the best rom-coms I’ve ever seen.
Is The Lost City as good as Palm Springs? No, I don’t think so. But is it the best rom-com I’ve seen since? Definitely.
The chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum is not only (somehow) very grounded and endearing, but it’s also wildly hilarious. Their relationship manages to toe the line between humor and charm — not too funny that it loses its meaning, but not too cheesy that it loses its realness. In an outrageously over-the-top adventure about a reclusive romance novelist (Bullock) who gets kidnapped with her cover model (Tatum), it’s somehow a display of some of the rawest human interactions I’ve seen on screen this year.
What I love about this movie is how much it pokes fun at its own genre. It’s an adaptation of a romance novel, about a romance novel, written by a romance novelist, who hates romance novels.
If that sounds confusing, just watch the movie. All of the cheesy branding — the obvious green screen, the oversaturated color grading, the hotter-than-life leads — is intentional and self-aware in a way that isn’t obvious from a pessimist’s point of view. Trust me, they knew what they were doing, and they nailed it.
Like when Brad Pitt goes full Snake Eyes in the jungle after off-roading in what looks like a blue hatchback Smart Car, are we supposed to take that seriously? No. And that’s why it’s a hilarious, incredible, darn-tootin’ good time.
If that’s not enough, we need to talk about Daniel Radcliffe. Honestly, getting the seal of approval from Radcliffe always makes me want to watch whatever film he’s involved in, no matter how buck-wild it may seem. Having been blessed with the bottomless Harry Potter fortune, Radcliffe can choose pretty much whatever role he wants at this point — which apparently consists of weird indie movies where he plays a talking dead body or a man with guns for hands.
Daniel Radcliffe as a zany villain truly is everything I’ve ever wanted. As an actor, he’s worn many hats, but his portrayal of Abigail Fairfax was a refreshing surprise that can’t help me wonder... Okay, picture this: an aged Radcliffe in the future (and inevitable) Harry Potter remake as Voldemort? Although to be honest, I think he has more Dolores Umbridge energy if you ask me.
For a movie with such fast pacing and relatively short runtime, it’s impressive how not a single character was wasted. Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, and Oscar Nuńez (who I like to believe is just a later version of Oscar from The Office who finally abandoned his cubicle for life by the sea) give it their all and deliver some of the best jokes of the entire movie.
In this breezy rom-com adventure, Bullock and Tatum give all their gusto in a film where every joke lands, no character goes unnoticed, and every moment counts. The Lost City is funnier than I ever anticipated and will leave you with silly rom-com butterflies and a smile on your face.
The Lost City hits theaters March 25th.