Adventure and Romance Return in The Lost City

The Nee brothers praise the great clown, Sandra Bullock

Brad Pitt, Sandra Bullock, and Channing Tatum in The Lost City

In 2006, Adam and Aaron Nee caught the eyes of indie tastemakers when their debut feature, microbudget comedy The Last Romantic, played in the original Alamo Drafthouse on Colorado as part of South by Southwest. Looking back, Adam said, "That was our first movie, our first premiere, our first everything. I remember how welcomed we felt to Austin, to the festival to the community. There was a line around the block to see our $20,000 indie movie, and it was a formative experience."

Sixteen years later, the writer/director siblings got another SXSW memory: watching The Lost City, their action rom-com, as the Saturday night headliner at SXSW 2022 in a packed Paramount Theatre. Adam said, "To be here, 16 years later, in a 1400-seat theatre with a movie with Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Brad Pitt, it's a beautiful coming-home kind of feeling."

Their star-studded studio picture, which arrives in cinemas this weekend, may seem a long way from what Aaron described as two kids from small town Florida maxing out their credit cards to get their movie made, but The Lost City is a different kind of daring. In an age of IP-driven cinema and risk-averse studios, "we don't take that for granted," said Aaron, who called the film "a scary leap into the dark that I really appreciate Paramount taking, because doing something on this scale – it's not a sequel, it's not based on an existing franchise or a hit comic book – it just doesn't happen."

“Sandy wants to look foolish as much as possible.” – Adam Nee

In The Lost City, Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a former archaeologist turned romance novelist who may have inadvertently discovered a real missing civilization. When she's unwillingly dragged into adventure, it's up to her sweet-natured and lunkheaded cover model, Alan Caprison (Tatum), to rescue her – although it becomes pretty clear that he's the one that needs rescuing. Adam described it as a throwback to Eighties star-driven flicks like Romancing the Stone, "where you took the characters and put them in the jungle, and the romance works in the movie, the action works in the movie, the comedy works in the movie, and they're all taken equally seriously."

So how did they get the movie made? Two words, one name. "Sandra Bullock," said Adam. "Sandy is someone we've all been wanting to see in a movie like this for a long time ... so to be able be part of this as a filmmaker is something I'm exceptionally grateful for."

It turns out that it wasn't just the Nees and audiences that wanted to see Bullock go back to the slapstick antics of Miss Congeniality and The Proposal. "Sandy wants to look foolish as much as possible," said Adam. "She's like a classic clown. She's the beautiful sex symbol who relishes being funny.

"Channing's the same way," added Aaron. "You could look at him and go, 'He's beautiful, he's an athlete, this guy should be an action star, he should be the one taking himself seriously,' and he's all about, 'Make me look like a fool. Throw me in these situations.' That's the secret sauce that turns them into real people. They let you laugh at them, and you love them for it."

The Lost City is in theatres now.

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Adam Nee, Aaron Nee, The Lost City, Sandra Bullock

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