Monday, 27 June 2022

‘The Lost City’ screwball comedy; TCM Festival update



‘THE LOST CITY’ RATED PG-13

That so few comedies make it to theaters anymore allows “The Lost City” to be a welcome relief during an inexplicable drought of good humor and goofy antics mixed in with adventure.

Thematically, this action-adventure comedy teaming Sandra Bullock as a romance novelist and Channing Tatum as the cover model for her books is reminiscent in several ways of 1984’s “Romancing the Stone” with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in almost similar situations.

One significant difference from the 1984 film is that Douglas’ character was a mercenary rogue and irreverent soldier of fortune who fit the Indiana Jones profile, while Tatum’s role is neither reckless nor particularly adventurous, at least at the outset.

Bullock’s Loretta Sage has lost the spirit that drives her to churn out her popular romance novels after the death of her archaeologist husband, and so she reluctantly agrees to a book tour for her newest release of “The Lost City of D.”

Loretta’s publicist Beth (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) pushes for her appearance at a marketing event with male model Alan (Channing Tatum), looking very much like Fabio with his long-haired wig for a pose as the hero on her book cover.

Disinterested in promoting her latest book, Loretta is even less enthralled with the rather dim Alan and probably for the reason that the audience at the marketing event seems only interested in having Alan remove his shirt as if he were a Chippendale dancer.

Shortly after the promotion, Loretta is abducted by lunatic billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe), who explains his given name is supposedly gender-neutral, on the belief that her novel’s titular city contains clues that would unlock the whereabouts of a legendary treasure.

Of course, the lost city is hidden in the jungle of a remote island in the Atlantic, and Alan takes off in search of the missing Loretta, mistakenly believing that his cover model as the heroic Dash in the novel actually makes him one.

Brad Pitt’s Jack Trainer, an adventurer much like Indiana Jones or Michael Douglas’s soldier of fortune, steps in for the rescue mission. Escaping the grip of Fairfax’s henchmen, Loretta and Alan end up on the run in the jungle.

Meanwhile, Beth is so frantic to find Loretta that her excursion turns into an entire subplot full of pitfalls in foreign lands, eventually hooking up with randy bush pilot Oscar (Oscar Nunez) and his goat to reach the remote tropical island.

While Loretta spends most of the film running around the jungle in a sequined jumpsuit and high heels, Alan is more often partially disrobed and at one point totally naked as Loretta suffers the humorous indignity of removing leeches from his backside.

That freedom from captivity doesn’t last long for the odd couple allows Fairfax more screen time to indulge his wildly psychopathic madness to an extent we may well forget that Daniel Radcliffe was once the titular character of the “Harry Potter” films.

There are plenty of delightfully crowd-pleasing aspects to “The Lost City,” from the chemistry between Bullock and Tatum to the physical comedy such as when Alan runs Loretta through the jungle in a wheelbarrow while she’s strapped to a chair.

Regardless of any minor faults, “The Lost City” is about as good of a screwball comedy as one can get in a modern-day Hollywood that has lost much of its sense of humor whether out of knee jerk obedience to political correctness or an absence of comedic writing talent.

TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL UPDATE

Getting closer to the start of the TCM Classic Film Festival on April 21, additional films along with personal appearances by the stars have been announced.

For the opening night celebration of “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,” actors Henry Thomas and Drew Barrymore will now join director Steven Spielberg. Thomas played Elliott, the young boy who befriends the friendly alien and Barrymore had the role of his sister Gertie.

“A League of Their Own,” the baseball classic, celebrates its 30th anniversary with stars Lori Petty, Anne Ramsay, Ann Cusack, Megan Cavanagh and Jon Lovitz in attendance. The only thing that would make it better would be to have Geena Davis and Tom Hanks joining the group.

Singer-dancer-choreographer Paula Abdul will part of the festivities for the screening of the 70th anniversary of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Abdul’s mentor and friend Gene Kelly inspired her to become a dancer.

“Diner,” which was released 40 years ago and featured many actors seen early in their careers, will now have stars Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Steve Guttenberg and Tim Daly joining the screening.

Writer-director-actor Warren Beatty will be present for the comedy “Heaven Can Wait.” Jane Seymour will celebrate the screening of the romantic fantasy “Somewhere in Time,” and Pam Grier will be on hand for the iconic blaxploitation film “Coffy.”

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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