The Lost City of D, a Lesser Rom and a Greater Com

I’m sticking to its original, rather funny title.

Rom-coms have been relegated to streaming for years now, often deprived of the chance of becoming a cultural touchstone or a box office success, save for the rare Set it Up. Featuring legitimate movie stars and an easily digestible, high-concept premise, The Lost City of D is a celebration of old-school romance novels, and a film that finally brings rom-coms back to the multiplex, and does so with aplomb. A star vehicle for Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum, in a new world where star vehicles are hard to come by, Seth Gordon’s spin on Romancing the Stone is a laugh-a-minute adventure that succeeds mightily at comedy if not romance. Bullock and Tatum enjoy a friendly, funny chemistry, however, they’re not exactly a match made in cinematic heaven. Their script heavily favors laughter over love, thus muting any emotional resonance that may have blossomed from their characters’ budding coupledom. There are worse things than being so funny an audience has little time to stop and smell the romance. Take Brad Pitt’s brief role as a grizzled secret ops mercenary with a head of hair like Fabio’s. His ten to fifteen-minute walk-on role is the best part of the film’s premise, and certainly the most unpredictable. I’d watch an entire movie about Pitt and Tatum’s insecure, inadequate hero buddying up to rescue damsels-in-distress. Additionally, Daniel Radcliffe stretches his legs to portray a conniving villain for the first time, embodying the privileged bemusement of a corporate son mad at Daddy for favoring his brother. He kidnaps Bullock’s romance novel writer and takes her to somewhere in the tropics where a famed lost city awaits, if they can only decipher the hieroglyphic clues. Radcliffe’s increasingly exasperated delivery is spot-on hysterical as his character quickly unravels from cool-as-a-cucumber Richie Rich to murderous and megalomaniacal. Oscar Nunez of The Office fame pops in as a curiously manic but friendly do-gooder, and DaVine Joy Randolph’s best-friend/publisher role is the only comedic bit that falls utterly flat. With Bullock’s charms and Tatum’s comedic sensibilities combined, it’s possible a new franchise has been born.

Grade: B

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