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The Lost City is corny and screwball but fun

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Aaron and Adam Nee (The Last Romantic, Band of Robbers) co-direct this rom-com adventure about reclusive romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), who writes about fictional hero Dash McMahon, who's portrayed by dimwitted cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum). During a book promotion tour for her new novel, The Lost City of D, she's kidnapped by eccentric billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who believes the lost city Loretta describes in her new book is real and that she can guide him to it. Despite having zero survival skills, her cover model Alan goes off to rescue her. (112 min.)

SET SAIL FOR ADVENTURE Kidnapped romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is rescued by her cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) in the rom-com adventure The Lost City, screening in local theaters. - PHOTO COURTESY OF PARAMOUNT PICTURES
  • Photo Courtesy Of Paramount Pictures
  • SET SAIL FOR ADVENTURE Kidnapped romance novelist Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock) is rescued by her cover model Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum) in the rom-com adventure The Lost City, screening in local theaters.
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Glen Apparently, Hollywood's powers that be decided audiences needed another Romancing the Stone (1984), with Bullock standing in for Kathleen Turner's beautiful romance novelist and Brad Pitt as Michael Douglas' roguish mercenary. The twist is Tatum's vapid cover model, Alan, who's not so secretly in love with Loretta, a self-described "sapiosexual" (someone who's attracted to intelligence), a bill which Alan clearly does not fill. The question is can Alan prove his worth? It's corny and screwball and satisfactorily charming when you're not rolling your eyes at some of the lame one-liners, ridiculous contrivances, or the fact Bullock/Loretta has to sashay through a jungle adventure in an on-loan purple-sequined jumpsuit, which turns into one of the film's many running jokes. Pitt shows up as Jack Trainer, someone Alan met at a meditation retreat, who's hired to rescue Loretta, and he's spectacular—the sort of larger-than-life real hero that Alan pretends to be on Loretta's book covers. How's Alan going to top that? There are some painfully obvious lessons to be learned, like not judging a book by its cover (insert groan), but also some more subtle ideas, like not dismissing romance novels as shlock because they bring fans real joy, which is commendable. Is it great? Far from it, but it's a serviceable rom-com diversion.

Anna This is the type of movie you can put on in the background, invite your gal pals over for brunch, gab away, laugh at occasionally, and easily follow along. It's fluff. Corny, silly, sometimes nonsensical, but perfect for when you need a movie that reminds you of cotton candy. I love both Bullock and Tatum—both have a great knack for comedy. Here they are given some real whoppers to deliver, so kudos to them for being able to pull off some of the more groan-inducing lines. But here's the thing—I had a pretty good time watching it! Loretta is still grieving after the death of her husband five years ago, and her publicist, Beth (Da'Vine Joy Randolph), is desperate to get her out of her funk and have a smashingly successful book tour. Randolph is another good source of comedy in the film, from her exasperation with Loretta and Alan to her global adventure to find and rescue them, Beth is a well-used character. Radcliffe pulls off eccentric in his role as Abigail Fairfax. Money plus a harebrained scheme involving kidnapping and treasure are not a good mix for that guy's mental stability.

Glen I also enjoyed Oscar Nuñez as the cargo plane pilot Beth hires to get her to the island. I found his comic timing a lot more subtle than Randolph's comic soliloquies. There are a lot of sparky moments, but this is a predictable plot filled with tired genre clichés. If you're going into the film hoping to be surprised by originality, you won't be, but if you want the cinematic equivalent of comfort food, this one's satisfying and mostly unmemorable. It's pretty enough to look at and was apparently filmed in the Dominican Republic, but a lot of the island landscapes look computer generated. That said, there's a lot of star power on-screen, and Bullock, Tatum, Pitt, and Radcliffe shine. If you're not afraid to head into a theater, this is worth a matinee.

Anna Nuñez was a great addition; he's an awesome comedic actor. He was also in Bullock's 2009 film The Proposal where he plays Ramone, the small town's celebrity stripper. He had me laughing in both roles. Like you said, there's really nothing new here, but if you've got a craving for popcorn and a couple of hours to kill, it's a good excuse to get out of the house and hit the theater for a matinee. You probably won't be incredibly disappointed if you wait to rent it at Redbox, but the cast is solid and even though it's nothing original, it does have some real moments of fun. Bullock and Tatum are a good match. Δ

Senior Staff Writer Glen Starkey and freelancer Anna Starkey write Split Screen. Glen compiles streaming listings. Comment at gstarkey@newtimesslo.com.

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