Genre: Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.
Release Date: September 18th, 1987 MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Terry Marcel Actors: Sam Jones, Maud Adams, Kirsten Hughes, Jasper Carrott, Graham Stark, Robin Bailey, Ian Roberts, Elsa O’Toole, John Rapley
et somewhere in Africa in 1940, explorer Scott has been missing for three days. When he finally returns, toting an enormous diamond, he collapses. He mentions briefly that he’s found the “lost city.” Seconds later, hostile natives attack the two waiting British sentries, one of whom gets as far as the bottom of a cliff a few yards away. The diamond falls into the hands of the evil Lola Pagola (Maud Adams), Hitler’s most dangerous agent at S.S. Headquarters, where Nazi henchmen Heinrich (an incredibly obnoxious Jasper Carrott) and Muller (Victor Gallucci) quarrel over the recent escape of their prisoner, who was perfect for interrogating.
Meanwhile, British commanders have assigned the Colonel (Robin Bailey) and his assistant Tombs (Graham Stark) to escort assistant Jane (Kirsten Hughes) and her pet dachshund Fritz to Churchill (Richard Huggett) for a top secret war briefing. The goal is to locate the lost city in the depths of the African jungle – ruled by the leopard warriors, keepers of hundreds of millions in diamonds. The Germans must not be allowed to beat the British to the invaluable loot (and their first successful thwarting comes in the form of accidentally drowning assassin Herman – also played by Jasper Carrott). When Jane, the colonel, and Tombs take a flight to Africa, their pilot Hans (again, Jasper Carrott), secretly a Nazi, abandons the plane, leaving the trio to crash land on the coast. The following morning, they’re captured by natives, but rescued by the commanding “Jungle” Jack Buck (Sam J. Jones), who leads them to his camp. But the journey to the lost city is fraught with further dangers from not only the competing Nazis (including hulking hunter Carl, played by Ian Roberts, and the tactless Dr. Schell, played by John Rapley) but also inhospitable tribes and precarious environments.
The film is routinely childish, playful, and silly, but it manages a few simple laughs and decidedly nonperilous adventures. Based on the famous “Jane” comic strip started in the ‘30s, this theatrical adaptation plays out like a lighter, goofier, slapstick-infused “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (especially with the sets and time period), minus the genuine thrills, solid acting, and iconic character designs. Staying true to the source material, pitfalls and booby traps are easily or unintentionally sidestepped, while Jane regularly loses her clothing – though audiences are only ever treated to glimpses of lingerie. As WWII escapism material, it’s purposely sexist, patriotic, overwrought with stereotypes, and consistently upbeat – ignoring any serious elements of the war.
“Jane and the Lost City” does feature a touch of amusing editing, some of which involves cutting away from what would have been expensive shots (a plane crash and a waterfall plummet both take place offscreen), others of which include humorously abrupt transitioning from safety to hazard. There’s also badly misused slow-motion, an uncomfortably long dance sequence, pitiful accents, and a dachshund that is incredibly calm for its breed. Unfortunately, the scripting is bland and the acting is wooden. For a 90-minute film, there’s not enough content or laughs to keep the plot moving – the pacing is horrendous and Carrott’s characters are borderline unwatchable. But Buck, quite funnily, is an exceedingly inept tracker and survivalist (and vegetarian!), poking fun with a performance similar to his insincere footballer Flash Gordon from a few years prior. It’s all very much like a cartoon, even possessing characters that don’t die – and that’s essentially what the filmmakers were aiming for.
– Mike Massie