‘Ticket to Paradise’ review: Star Power saves an old-school Romcom
Romantic comedies never died out, but mainstream examples with A-list stars have been fairly rare since the glory days of the ’90s and early 2000s, when “Pretty Woman,” “Notting Hill,” “Love Actually” and “Bridget Jones’s Diary” reigned supreme at the box office. Bucking the trend, ‘Ticket to Paradise’, a brilliant piece of fluff starring Hollywood royalty Julia Roberts and George Clooney as the divorced couple whose passion is reignited in Bali during their foolish attempt to prevent their daughter to marry a guy she just met. While far from a classic of the genre, it’s probably just the ‘ticket’ for general viewers who relish the chance to watch Roberts and Clooney trade poison barbs, before getting hit with the arrow again. of Cupid.
Opened in much of Europe, South America and Australia long before its October 21 North American release, “Ticket” is the kind of light entertainment that these days frequently bypasses cinemas and goes straight to streaming platforms. With its superpowered central duo that radiates charm even when the direction lacks panache and the dialogue isn’t all that funny, this ultra-formal concoction should still draw large crowds upon its theatrical release. Looking and sounding like it could have been done 20 or 30 years ago, “Ticket” may not pack quite as much bubbly, sophisticated wit – or even a whole lot of big belly laughs – but does offer enough smiles and of laughs to register as an easily enjoyable but memorable diversion for an audience looking for simple escapist entertainment.
Drawing inspiration from the “Philadelphia Story” school of comedy about divorced couples, director Ol Parker (“Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again,” writer of “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”) and co-writer Daniel Pipski positions David (Clooney) and Georgia (Roberts) as a husband and wife who had everything for five brief years. That was before the lakeside house that David had built for them burned down and their happiness went up in smoke with it.
Twenty years later, they’ve settled into a comfortable routine of exchanging insults when called upon to witness milestone events in the life of their daughter Lily (Kaitlyn Dever). Expecting even less contact after grimacing during Lily’s college graduation, the exes are reunited six weeks later when Lily announces she’s set to marry Gede (Maxime Bouttier) , a handsome local seaweed farmer she met while vacationing in Bali with her BFF Wren (Billie Lourd).
Complicating matters is the unexpected arrival of Georgia’s young boyfriend Paul (a thankless role for “Emily in Paris” star Lucas Bravo), an airline pilot. A goofy guy who practically worships Georgia, the handsome flyboy unsurprisingly proposes marriage just when the plot demands another distraction to keep David and Georgia apart until the romcom convention determines they’re ready to begin. look at each other with new, dumbfounded eyes.
There’s plenty of stinging repartee in the opening sequences showing the cantankerous divorcees declaring a truce in order to stop Lily from making what they’re certain is a huge mistake. Naturally, that’s before they’ve even met the expectant husband, but that’s beside the point and nothing short of sabotaging the nuptials will suffice in such an emergency.
The fact that anyone can guess the ending is central to the appeal of romantic comedies. Their success depends on the timing and execution of jokes and funny situations en route to familiar and heartwarming affirmations of love and romance. After getting off to a promising start, “Ticket to Paradise” never exactly dips – that would be nigh on impossible with Clooney and Roberts in the frame – but often struggles to make the most of a setup that seems ripe. for the comedic misunderstandings, goofy shenanigans and cross-wires that underlie this genre.
Whether David and Georgia enact their dumb enough plans to steal the wedding rings and sow doubt in Gede’s mind, or engineer travel and transportation mishaps that will throw the arrangements into chaos, the film moves forward enough. fine but rarely hits comedic high notes or musters the momentum to sweep the audience into chaos. Georgia’s unfortunate encounter with a dolphin, or a change of hotel room after Paul’s sudden arrival, are other examples of moments that could have turned into laugh riots but end up being just as sweetly funny.
When Parker picks up his beat, the image flips, like the sequence in which Clooney and Roberts break out dance moves so bad they’re good on the floor of the 90s C + C Music Factory “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” in a bar after too many beer pong games. It’s about as raunchy and wild as it gets in a very PG-13 image that never even suggests anyone having a relationship. sex before – or even after – marriage.
This is the Roberts-Clooney show all the way, with the two also giving the story’s occasional introspective moments an emotional weight that will particularly resonate with middle-aged viewers. Still, the other cast members are doing well with generally limited opportunities. Dever is seductive in the tightly written and rather old-fashioned role of a young woman who is head over heels for Gede, but also worried about “letting everyone down” if she follows her heart, and has a pleasant chemistry with the talented Franco actor. -Indonesian Bouttier in his first major international feature film role. Lourd, who starred alongside Dever in “Booksmart,” manages some great tricks as the best friend, while Aussie actor Genevieve Lemon scores a few appearances as the talkative plane passenger who shows up on the tourist trail when David would like to least. she has.
It’s also good to see Balinese culture and days-long wedding rituals portrayed with precision and respect, as the last romantic moment of truth draws nearer for the young couple and the parents of the bride-to-be. Filmed primarily in the Whitsunday Islands in northern Australia due to Covid-19 restrictions making filming in Bali impossible, “Ticket” truly looks like heaven in DP Ole Bratt Birkeland’s beautifully polished widescreen footage ( “Judy”). The Australian duo of production designer Owen Paterson (“The Matrix”) and costume designer Lizzy Gardiner (“The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”) also make fine contributions to creating a place that feels like million miles of all the cares of the world. For a slightly too long 104 minutes, it’s a place that many viewers will be happy enough to visit.