The Lost City (2022)
Credit: Paramount Pictures

You can’t judge a book by its cover, or a film by its promising trailer. The latter is true of The Lost City (2022), which can be streamed in full on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime. 

The romantic comedy adventure follows a disturbing trend of plots driven by kidnapped women per the 2022 releases Gaslit, Girl in the Shed: The Kidnapping of Abby Hernandez, Fresh, Last Seen Alive, The Next Girl, No Exit, The Princess, and Suspicion. While the topic may suit true crime stories, thrillers, horror and action flicks, it’s not exactly what is meant by “escapist” entertainment.

At the very least, an abduction setup is indicative of a lazy script since screenwriters (four in this case) can place a heroine in a certain environment without worrying about her motivation for being there.

Worse is the fact that writers Oren Uziel, Dana Fox, and Adam and Aaron Nee (who also serve as directors) appropriate content from other films. The Lost City desperately tries to capture the comedy and chemistry of Romancing the Stone (1984) but winds up lifting situations from Snatched (2017) in a less successful way.

To be fair, the movie has its moments. Supporting players Brad Pitt, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, and Oscar Nunez make the most of what they’re given opposed to leading lady and co-producer Sandra Bullock who seems as though she’s phoning in her role.

And why is she wearing makeup in the jungle? Granted, it’s not as bad as when she did on a solo mission in space in Gravity (2013). But it shows the 58-year-old actress is more concerned with her own vanity than the film’s authenticity — an essential element in comedy.

Bullock exhibits no sense of urgency when being chased, no exuberance when her character reaches safety, and no palpable attraction to co-star Channing Tatum, even when he’s using smooth dance moves to woo her on screen.

After churning out formulaic rom-coms for three decades, it’s no wonder Bullock has lost her spark. Nowadays, it appears only filmmakers Paul Thomas Anderson (Licorice Pizza), Noah Baumbach (While We’re Young), and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) are breathing new life into the rom-com genre.

If stuck on a plane, The Lost City may be a justified way to pass the time; or if shown over popcorn and cocktails at a viewing party with friends who talk through the movie. Otherwise, audiences will have a better time watching the trailer on YouTube or streaming Romancing the Stone on Hulu.

Ms. Arvia is a Rebellious columnist and movie critic; entertainment ghostwriter; award-winning artist; and grant-winning filmmaker.