Romantic comedies, better known as rom-coms, are a genre I’ve grown to appreciate more and more. As an advocate that all kinds of stories are necessary for a more complete film education, the comfort of being able to watch a light, fun flick, even if it’s not innovative, is a positive feeling that can often transform a dull day into a joyful one. Depending on the taste of each viewer, some prefer more romance, some prefer more comedy, but in the end, what matters the most is the movie delivering enough entertainment and inspiring lessons. Add an adventure component, and the results are films like The Lost City.
No viewer enters the theater to watch a rom-com expecting to witness the most impressive narrative ever. Predictably, The Lost City follows the usual formula of the genre: two protagonists who couldn’t be more different and/or hate each other have to face an unexpected situation, getting closer and truly getting to know each other, ultimately creating a deep bond that results in passion and love. This work from brothers Aaron and Adam Nee (Band of Robbers) doesn’t escape the admittedly cliche structure, but their screenplay – co-written with Oren Uziel (Escape Room: Tournament of Champions) and Dana Fox (Cruella) – has enough variations of the generic elements to create a very entertaining movie.
With a particular focus on deceptive appearances, The Lost City offers two main characters with relatable motivations and distinct personalities that combine hilariously well. Alan, a seemingly goofy cover model, and Loretta, the depressed author of the most popular romantic novel franchise, are brilliantly portrayed by Channing Tatum (Dog) and Sandra Bullock (The Unforgivable). The actors share a lot of chemistry in roles that force them to have moments where they need to be immensely comfortable with their co-star, and both show extraordinary ease, in addition to superb comic performances.
The main plot may lack imagination, but care wasn’t lacking in the treatment of the protagonists nor in the comedic adventure sequences. Genuine laughter hits double digits primarily due to the unexpected conclusions of certain scenes. However, the biggest surprise of The Lost City turns out to be the excellent development given to the arcs of Alan and Loretta that, in fact, convinces the audience of the eventual evolution of their relationship. When it comes to the rest of the cast and respective storylines, only Brad Pitt (Ad Astra) stands out in a positive manner. Despite the short screen time and the clear objective of simply showing up to perform an action sequence, the actor is truly hilarious in his few minutes of presence.
On the other hand, everything secondary in The Lost City lacks appeal and entertainment value. Daniel Radcliffe (Guns Akimbo) is too talented to be hanging around like a cartoonish villain who strangely disappears during the second act after providing the obligatory cheap exposition for the audience to immediately understand where the film is headed. As much as I was incredibly pleased to see Oscar Nunez (The Office) again, his subplot with Da’Vine Joy Randolph (Kajillionaire) has no narrative impact, serving merely to increase the runtime and negatively affect the pacing of the island adventure, in addition to considerably lowering the comedy level.
Regardless of these less favourable points, The Lost City makes up for them with a more pleasant ending than anticipated. By transforming a possible MacGuffin into something with much symbolic value and thematically rich, the Nee brothers manage to win over the public and, who knows, jumpstart a new rom-com saga with Alan and Loretta as two passionate adventurers. Technically, I must mention the fact that most of the project was filmed in real locations instead of within four green/blue walls. It undeniably contributes to greater enjoyment of the actual landscape environment.
The Lost City is one of this year’s surprises, managing to vary the well-known formulas of the genre in a creative, fun manner. By making the most of the hilarious, chemistry-filled performances from Channing Tatum and Sandra Bullock, the Nee brothers explore the distinct protagonists, Alan and Loretta, beyond what’s expected in generic rom-coms, developing their misleading appearances through a genuinely exciting adventure. Unfortunately, only the main character arcs receive this level of care, as everything secondary lacks the same interesting treatment and better entertainment. Still, a thematically rich ending compensates for any cliches. Definitely, a family viewing party recommendation.
The Lost City is out in cinemas now