Most serious comic book movie fans would never consider watching “The Batman” for the first time at home on tv. Maybe for the second or third viewing…but that kind of action is best on the Big Screen. And yet, I hear folks looking at a poster for a romantic comedy saying, “Eh, I’ll wait till that’s streaming.” What a shame. I can think of nothing better on a Friday night, than sharing laughter with a full house of movie fans. A quiet giggle on the couch is nothing compared to a loud guffaw that gets others laughing even harder. A great comedy makes you laugh so hard that you miss big chunks of dialogue…and those lines you can catch when you watch the film again, at home, on your couch.
“The Lost City” (playing at theaters) has moments that will give you the giggles. There’s great chemistry between Sandra Bullock, romance author Loretta Sage, and Channing Tatum, cover model Alan. It’s easy to see why they’re America’s Sweethearts: not only are they incredibly good-looking, but they both seem like humans you’d want to be friends with too. Their interviews and promos together with Daniel Radcliffe (as a self-entitled prick) are full of good-natured ribbing and comradery. Bullock helmed the film as a producer for Paramount Pictures and she hired great directors with the brothers Nee (Aaron Nee, Adam Nee). There’s a great interview with the three stars in the NYTimes: “A ‘Lost City’ Group Chat“, Kyle Buchanan, March 17, 2022
In a brilliant bit of luck with cameo swapping, Bullock persuaded Brad Pitt to play a crucial and hilarious role as a New Age extraction expert. She’ll be seen in the film Pitt stars in, “Bullet Train” (in theaters in July). Pitt plays the real-life version of the character Tatum pretends to be on the covers of the romance novels. In “The Lost City”, it’s the men tossing their long locks to exude sex appeal and confidence. To watch these two men play off their movie star good looks makes it all the more comedic.
Comedy is hard. You need great timing and chemistry and excellent writing to pull of an action adventure in the style of “Romancing the Stone”. Without stars that are willing to commit to the roles with no winking at the camera, the film would be a silly farce. What elevates the silliness is Bullock’s willingness to rock a glittery purple onsie and heels in the jungle but also to have her character reveal her fear and anxiety as a writer, and then learn to appreciate Alan’s affection and oafish charm.
There’s great action sequences, gorgeous locations (filmed in the Dominican Republic) and a supporting cast that ably support our star players. The tale of greed and grave robbing is merely the zipline to hang the sight gags, chase scenes, and brief moments of character-bonding before swinging to the final scene on the beach. We know we’re in good hands—that by the end, the characters will have grown emotionally and found a renewed sense of purpose and perhaps even love.
Channing Tatum is having a great year. He had a hilarious cameo as an overly sexual dance maniac; a persona for a gamer in “Free Guy”. He even upstages Ryan Reynolds at times. Tatum has had great success with his directorial debut, “Dog” (with co-director Reid Carolin, who also co-wrote the screenplay). He stars as an all-American guy trying to get reinstated in the Army Rangers by transporting an unruly dog…as they both learn life lessons on the journey. “The Lost City” let him channel his real-life modeling career as the fictional Alan. His next role is in the Zoë Kravitz-directed “Pussy Island”.
Tatum is currently in London where he’s producing and starring in his third Magic Mike film. There’s also a stage show in Las Vegas and London. “Magic Mike’s Last Dance” is directed by Steven Soderberg and will premiere exclusively on HBOMax. Once co-starring Thandiwe Newton, there’s a new lead, Salma Hayek.
It’s wonderful to see talented stars using their star power to produce, and even moving into directing like Kravitz. Let’s go see their movies in theaters when we can so that your local multiplex doesn’t have four screens playing the same super hero/comic book film, one with an animated film for families and no room left for romantic comedies. Now more than ever, we all need to laugh…together.
Drinks with Films rating:
“The Lost City” 3 rum drinks in a tropical paradise (out of 5)