I guess I’ve been on a “fiction becomes reality” kick lately, because after watching The Boyfriend School a couple of weeks ago, last weekend’s movies were The Lost City and Galaxy Quest, which also fall into that trope.
The Lost City is a spoof of the Romancing the Stone sort of film, in which a novelist gets dragged into the kind of adventure she writes about. In this case, an eccentric billionaire kidnaps a reclusive novelist because her latest book made him think she knew how to find a treasure he’s seeking, and her himbo cover model decides to stage a rescue mission that doesn’t quite go as planned.
This movie is an absolute hoot. I did have to turn off the part of my brain that knows anything about publishing because they seem to have written it as though it was movies but then changed it to books (a book tour doesn’t really work like a Hollywood press junket) and they don’t seem to understand that if you have a long series about the same hero, they’re probably not romance novels. But I laughed out loud so often during this movie. It somehow manages to be a spoof of the genre and an excellent example of it. It stands on its own as a romantic adventure movie while also sending up the tropes of that kind of movie. Everyone involved seems to be in on the joke, having fun and not taking themselves too seriously, sometimes mocking their own images. We’ve got Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter’s all grown up!) gleefully chewing the scenery as the villain, Channing Tatum playing the himbo with surprising depths while still leaning in to his character’s foibles, Brad Pitt having tons of fun mocking his own image, and Sandra Bullock pulling off an older, wiser version of the “spunky kid” type she played earlier in her career. Meanwhile, all the supporting characters are given something that fleshes them out and makes them memorable.
It’s on Amazon Prime, and I don’t know how long it will stay (movies seem to rotate in and out more rapidly lately). I may have to watch it again while it’s there. If you liked Romancing the Stone, check this one out.
I saw Galaxy Quest at the theater when it came out, but I don’t think I’ve seen it since then. There were parts that I remembered but a lot that I didn’t, and there were a lot of people I didn’t realize were in the movie. They’re known now, but that was an early (or first) role. That movie, about the cast of a Star Trek-like series that gets recruited for a mission by aliens who saw their show and thought it was real, is an excellent example of setups and payoffs. Every character gets established with a “thing” early in the movie that establishes their arc, and they all pay off at some point in the movie, which makes it all quite satisfying. One that works particularly well is Alan Rickman’s character ranting about hating his character’s tagline, and then he delivers it with utter sincerity later in the movie in a scene that’s quite emotional.
I’ve been a Star Trek fan most of my life (apparently, my mom watched part of the original run while feeding me when I was an infant), so it’s fun catching the way this movie lovingly sends up so many of the Trek tropes. It’s aged surprisingly well.
Mashing up all these things I’ve watched lately now kind of makes me want to write the story of the reclusive fantasy author who gets taken through a portal to a magical world, where they think she can coach them in defeating the Dark Lord and recruiting a team of heroes, since it looks to them like she’s an expert, thanks to her books that they think are histories. Or something like that. I’m trying to decide if her genre savvy would turn out to help or if it would turn out that nothing works the way it does in fiction. We could throw in a recent divorce and make it Under the Tuscan Sun meets Galaxy Quest, but in Narnia.